The Flexing Culture in Indonesia: Understanding the Obsession with Wealth Display

Indonesia has seen a rise in the culture of flexing, which involves showing an excessive pride in one's achievements or possessions in a manner that is likely to irritate others. This trend has been particularly prevalent among public officials and their families, who have been flaunting their wealth on social media. However, this practice has recently caused a stir after the arrest of Mario Dandy Satrio, the son of a tax officer, who was accused of assaulting a juvenile. The later surfacing of photos and videos highlighting his lavish lifestyle and his father's rumored fortune has prompted scrutiny into the source of the funds.

The widespread availability of internet access that can reach a broader audience is a primary factor that makes it challenging to eradicate flex culture from the public. As of 2021, there were approximately 191.4 million social media users in Indonesia, the third highest in the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, the flexing material has been packaged or marketed in a novel way that attracts a great deal of interest quickly. In a nation of 273 million people with varying socioeconomic classes and a significant social divide, many individuals are interested in gaining a glimpse into the lavish lifestyles of the wealthy.

According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), the poverty rate in Indonesia was reported to be 9.57 percent in September 2022, with 26.36 million people living below the poverty line. Despite this, people from all occupations consume flexing material, not just low-income individuals. Clinical psychologist Yunike Balsa Rhapsodia explains that "we live in a consumerist society," where the things people often measure success can afford. "Essentially, money, position, and material possessions can indirectly satisfy our four needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, and self-esteem," Yunike said.

Flexing culture has zero correlation to social standing, and the obsession with wealth display often arises from external social pressures, influence, and an individual's first stage of development. Some people resort to flexing to boost their social image and keep their status. Additionally, some individuals engage in the flexing culture because they experience a "fear of missing out (FOMO)" when most of the group is flaunting their possessions.

However, the practice of flexing has recently caused public fury about the misuse of public funds and the possibility that justice would not be delivered because the judiciary is now dealing with the wealthy. Public officials' flaunting of their wealth has only fueled this outrage, leading to calls for more transparency and accountability. President Joko Widodo has urged public officials not to flaunt their wealth, calling it "very inappropriate bureaucratic behavior."

In conclusion, the rise of the flexing culture in Indonesia reflects the wider global trend of consumerism, where the display of wealth has become an essential part of measuring success. However, the practice has become increasingly controversial, leading to calls for greater transparency and accountability, particularly among public officials. As clinical psychologist Yunike Balsa Rhapsodia notes, "It all boils down to the individual's capacity for establishing inner tranquility." True success and happiness come from within and cannot be measured by material possessions or wealth.