When influencers manage their stress by, for example, posting beautiful pictures of an impulsive excursion to Bali with the hashtag shibalbiyong, it normalizes a culture of instant gratification. A small pleasure now is better than a promised future contentment that will never come. Social media is another driving force in the shibal biyong phenomenon. But in South Korea, a generation of frustrated young people is reclaiming the idea of frivolous expenses—from cab rides to expensive sushi—as a psychological survival tool dubbed shibal biyong. Jeongmin Kim is a Korea analyst and a political science scholar at Seoul National University researching North Korean politics and comparative authoritarianism. Quite the opposite: For many of them, short-term consumption has become a rational choice maximizing the utility of money based on a realistic assessment of the future. The term implies that you might as well make yourself happy right now because your prospects in the long term seem bleak.
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