The Truths behind Social Climbers and Why They’re Toxic

By Rayi Noormega - January 13, 2018


I have just arrived at the restaurant and sat beside my friend before I heard a question, “Where do you work now?” which was asked by one of the girls in the group. I was the one who came the last, so I tried to observe and listen to their conversations first before I decided to speak. They are fresh-graduates and our dinner that night should be filled with nostalgic conversations about our memories in the same youth organization, in which we have joined two years ago, back in college. Instead, we were talking about who had the better job than anyone. 

I was surprised by the fact that my friends have changed into the kind of people I've no longer recognize. I’ve just realized that in this transition period of our 20s, they have changed themselves into those people who valued artificial things more than true meanings behind everything.

The society standards or (maybe) their company cultures have changed them into someone who seeks validation, acceptance, and compliments from other people. Not to mention that they were always bragging about their colleagues who are working in some prestigious companies and they were really proud about that. That night, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of my former friends have changed themselves into social climbers.

Based on the Urban Dictionary, a social climber, which is also the synonym of an “attention whore”, is anyone who becomes friends with someone else if they have something that they want or need. Social climbers will value human relationship based on popularity and status as those two things are becoming their primary needs.

They never see any depth and intimacy upon their friendship as they will only become friends with the people who “know people”. More often than not, social climbers are ambitious, competitive, and high-achiever as their one and only goal is to “get to the top”. They will never feel satisfied if there is someone else who holds a “higher-status” than them.

A social climber’s toxic thought to always “get to the top” will haunt their lives in the daily basis and it’s hard for them to be grateful for what they already have. They will also seek more and more as they will never truly happy with their own lives. So, despite their unhappy life as they never feel grateful, why so many people become social climbers?   

The urge to fulfill their esteem need, for one. Based on the Psychology Today, social climbing behaviors may stem from a low self-esteem and an extreme tendency toward self-comparison. Despite their talkative-social butterfly behaviors, they are actually really insecure about themselves. They will always see other people are better than them in terms of career, appearance, quality, and personality.

Thus, because social climbers never believe in themselves, they use other people’s existence to boost their self-esteem. This is why they will never build friendship genuinely because if they think that you have a “lower status” than them, they don’t gain esteem need from you.

Lifestyle and identity crisis might also be the reasons for the emerging of social climbers in our society. In this world which is rapidly changing in terms of technology and social media, everyone wants to be recognized. In the case of my friends, they are in their 20s and those are the period when people want to be recognized as those successful, young, and bright youths- and they want the world to see that they have a perfect life.

Thus, social climbers will fill their Instagram feed with their achievements along with their group selfie with those popular people whom they have (might) ever known. If we analyze social climbers further, their lives will full of artificial things as they build their world based on shallow things, such as social status and financial wealth.

I never say that it’s bad to be a social climber; I believe that everyone has unlimited choices to choose who they want to be. But, I can’t help but feel bad for social climbers as they will never understand and feel the true definition of happiness, blessing, and gratefulness. 

They might never taste what true love is and the true meaning of human connections. Their mind will only be filled by obsessions toward social status and popularity, which become a cycle, and those toxic thoughts will never end.        

Despite our busy lives to achieve our career goals, we need to stop for a while and breathe. Don’t let those society’s success standards influence our minds and transform us into one of those social climbers. Remember, the social climbers might seem like they have a perfect life, but actually, they are dying inside; searching their own meaning of life. 



Featured Image via Helena Lopes
Re-published at Unwritten (January 23, 2018)

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