BonFyre of the Vanities

Posted by Doug Kinsey - 11 February, 2019


Technology and the meaning of true relationships.

I watched the Neftlix documentary, Fyre, last night and went to bed feeling thoroughly confused. First of fyre_ka_usall, I was not aware of the "Fyre Festival" that is the subject of the documentary, and the events that transpired leading up to and during its massive failure.

Watching the film is like watching a cataclysmic car accident on a busy highway. One in which all the drivers are either drunk, stupid, exhibitionists, or all three. I felt like I was watching a movie where it was impossible to like anyone, including the "influencers" and ignorant customers of the "event."

Fyre Festival was primarily the creation of an "entrepreneur" named Billy McFarland and a rapper named Ja Rule. It could have been an intentional fraud, a pie-in-the-sky idea, or both. At any rate, many people lost money on the misadventure, including Bahamian citizens and laborers, employees of Fyre, and investors.

I recommend watching the Netflix version and forming your own opinion. If you like the "American Greed" series on CNBC, you'll probably find this to be interesting as well. If you want to save yourself some time, I offer my takeaways:

  1. Technology, and in particular, social media has propelled global society into a realm of exhibitionism. Everybody of a certain age wants to be noticed, "liked" and followed. Particularly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Social technology feeds off of the human desire to be in the "in crowd" and to be noticed. Marketers, political campaigns, and scammers do and always have used this desire to their benefit.
  3. The tools to make something look legitimate, when it is a total fraud, are easier than ever to come by and use. Almost any teenager at home can use these technologies to make anything look believable. The promoters of Fyre Festival used a full compliment of employees and contractors to create Instagram posts, Facebook videos, and slick advertising campaigns to extract money from impressionable younger customers.
  4. Social media, for all of its possible virtues, is diluting real one-on-one (or even group) relationships (for more on this, the most recent Art of Manliness podcast is worth a listen: AOM Podcast #479: Becoming a Digital Minimalist).

So what does this all have to do with financial planning and wealth management? It drives home the point that human beings can fall prey to "shiny objects" and deviate from the focus and discipline that it takes to succeed financially. If you listen to the AOM podcast, you'll hear the guest of the show, Cal Newport, talk about the intensity of planning that Facebook and other social media firms put into manipulating your behavior when you are using their apps. It's changing human interactions and I think it has the potential to severely damage rational thought.

That said, I do think that the advances in technology, including social media are generally a good thing. But it's also important for us all to remember the drawbacks and moderate our devotion to it. In other words, go outside and play...preferably with some real humans.


Topics: Financial Planning, Fyre, Fyre Festival, Social Media

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