by Anthony Bailey
How Social is Social Media and how does it affect us?
Social media is a huge part of our everyday lives. We spend hours and hours scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s tough to avoid the temptation of scrolling when you essentially have the entire world at the palm of your hand. These smartphones and devices may seem harmless, but have you ever taken the time to consider how these apps may be influencing your life? The answer is probably not. You were too busy scrolling through the timeline (LOL). It's ironic how these touch screens make the average person lose touch with their own reality, especially when it comes to their finances. A lot of people are blind to the fact that social media can affect their financial wellness, along with increasing spending habits.
Social media has allowed highschool behavior to continue into adulthood. Highschoolers love to compare themselves to others and that is exactly what people do all day long on the socials. In my opinion, social media has furthered this childish behavior. Obviously, people love sharing their personal lives on the timeline. It's easy to get jealous when you’re scrolling and see a fancy dinner, a new Mercedes, followed by a friend on vacation in Cancun. All this does is make you feel like you don’t have enough in your own life. Scrolling through the timeline has made you think your life sucks.
In order to make up for the sadness, you decide that you deserve a vacation. You take out your credit card and book a flight to Miami, reserve a 5-Star AirBnb, and order a new pair of RayBan sunglasses. Congrats, you just racked up $1,945 worth of credit card debt. See how easy that was? Social media just made you spend money within a few minutes.
Seeing fancy cars and clothes on the socials has a serious impact on people, especially when it comes to mental health. It subconsciously activates jealousy and envy within us and I am guilty of it too. However, I have gotten much better with this. I would catch myself taking a snapchat of something I just bought and thinking to myself, “What the hell am I doing?” I don’t really do this anymore unless I'm sharing it with my small circle of friends. I think posting on socials is a waste of time and I realize how easy it is to get manipulated.
With that being said, it is also extremely easy to spend money online when you have advertisements in your face all day. Did you know that every fourth post on Instagram and Facebook is a paid advertisement? Well, you do now. These advertisements are targeted directly for products you are interested in as well. For example, if you have searched for a pair of Yeezys on Google or Instagram those ads will start popping up on your feed. If you search for a Ford F150, you will start seeing new trucks on your feed, tempting you to get a new car payment! These apps do a tremendous job of making you feel insecure and that you don’t have enough stuff. Then they shove a product down your throat in order to make you feel better. The never ending business model is genius for producers, yet a terrible for consumers. The only way to win this battle is to take control of what you are consuming on these apps.
It is extremely easy to be manipulated in the virtual world, which is why you need to be mindful of who you are following. There are tons of people trying to be flashy in order to make themselves feel better, however, there are also a bunch of phenomenal people that you can follow on these platforms that will actually help you grow as an individual. I follow people who motivate me, inspire me, or have a positive message overall. I follow a lot of people in the financial world who talk about different ways on how to create wealth. I follow a bunch of people in the fitness industry which makes me want to live a healthier lifestyle. This small change has helped me refocus on what is important in life. Ever since I got rid of negativity on my timeline I've found my mental health to be drastically better.
People don’t realize that your diet is not just what you eat, but also what you consume on the timeline. If you eat shitty foods, you are going to feel like shit for the rest of the day. If your timeline is shitty, your mental health is going to be shitty as well. Your mind and body are directly connected, so you need to treat them both with care. It is not always going to be perfect, but if you can make these changes you will drastically see a change in your mental health, which will leave more change in your wallet (HA!). If you feel good, you won’t find the need to spend more on materialistic items. I highly recommend a timeline audit to anyone who isn't feeling confident in themselves. Start to follow people who are putting out a good message and get rid of all the other nonsense that is distracting you.
I get it, people don’t want to feel left out, but keeping up with the joneses is no good for a person’s finances. Social media is nothing but a distraction. Instagram is a highlight reel and Twitter is a place for keyboard warriors hiding behind anonymous accounts. Nobody ever posts their bad days or their failures. These socials create an illusion that people are living amazing lives when in reality most people are insecure about something. If they were truly comfortable with their lives and themselves then they wouldn't be posting everything on the timeline. Don’t get caught up in this facade.
If your goal is to improve financially, make sure that you are in the driver's seat when it comes to social media. Instead of using socials to pass time by, use them to your advantage. If you have some free time watch some educational Youtube videos on trading stocks, real estate, or Bitcoin. If you are on Twitter, follow people who are experts in the Financial and Fitness world. Lastly, if you feel like you are being distracted on social media, then unfollow everyone and start fresh! Make sure you control social media and never let social media control you.