I came across an interesting article recently, about that strange creature that we know as “Social Media”.
Basically, it was about how social media, and the way that social media marketing works, has resulted in a pressure (for want of a better word) to make people spend more to keep up with their social network.
It is basically, the modern version of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’; and it made me think.
Do you find social media influencing your spending habits? Are you compelled to spend more? Are you able to turn a blind eye to all the enticing marketing that’s flooding your timelines? Tell me! 🙂
Pressure to live the Instagram-worthy life
In the article, which I will link below, someone who wanted to emulate the lifestyle of bloggers and mega influencers on Instagram, found herself spending more and more money to do so. It was so much so, that she found herself getting in debt, to fund her lifestyle of escalating costs.
She started living ‘for the ‘gram’ eating at expensive restaurants and cafes more often, going on expensive, fancy holidays, and buying designer goods.
It isn’t hard to relate to, if you ask me.
READ THE ARTICLE: You can read the article that inspired this post here
On Instagram (primarily, and to a lesser extent, Facebook) much of what is portrayed is that of a wonderful, happy, lavish lifestyle. Holidays to exotic locales always bring in the likes. Why show off a holiday in Port Dickson, when the crystal-clear blue waters of the Maldives will bring in the admiration, and fuel envy.
Why show off a holiday to a local town, when you’d garner more likes and followers with a drool-worthy montage featuring the white and blue buildings of Santorini?
Why eat a messy looking (but oh so delicious!) meal at a roadside hawker stall, when you could feature picturesque eggs benedict on toast, at the latest, most sought-after cafe in town instead?
Personally, I feel that these days, too much score is placed on how it LOOKS to live your life, as opposed to actually living it.
Getting caught up with the beautiful life
Social media is truly the modern trap of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. The problem now is that it’s not only your neighbours’ or friends’ life that you covet. It is often, that of total strangers.
It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting more than you can afford. Lifestyle envy, coupled with living on credit via credit cards can be quite a deadly combination. It’s easy to just swipe your credit card, thinking that it buys you time to pay for the item or experience.
But the danger is in not knowing when and where to draw the line.
When do you acknowledge that flying business class is not normal? Or that eating expensive, pretty meals at every other meal is not something normal people do?
When do you realize that you don’t have to order 4 or 5 breakfast items that you can’t finish, so you can take that colourful breakfast flatlay? Or when you realize that you don’t have to own or carry the latest IT luxury designer bag to be a fashion influencer?
The reality is that living the instagram-worthy life is expensive. You want to live and more importantly, show off a life that induces envy in others. This prompts them to follow you, for more similar content, and you then feel the need to keep up with it.
It is like feeding a monster. The more you feed, the bigger it grows, and one day, you lose control of it, and it turns around and bites your head off.
Social Media is not real life
The key thing to note is this: Social media is not real life.
No matter how ‘real’ anyone tries to keep it, it is worth noting that real life is not a series of lavish holidays flown in business class, fancy hotels and head-to-toe designer wear.
Real life is long periods of quite uneventful, almost boring day-to-day routines (and for most of us, work), punctuated by the odd bright spot of fun and excitement. It is about being clever about balancing your time, work and finances, to enjoy your life, without going into debt.
I’ve read many articles about people who have gone into debt purely to fund an envious lifestyle online. It isn’t a problem unique to Canada or America. It is happening even right here in Malaysia.
I see and meet some of these online influencers locally, and I know that many of them aren’t rolling in money. But the impression they give is that they are. While that sort of image is important, for the perceived need to entice brand sponsorships, it is counter productive, and very shallow.
Online shopping has made it easier to spend
If there’s one thing to ‘blame’ for the influence to spend more, it is online shopping. These days, you can shop directly from Instagram, by tapping through to the brand’s website.
Or, you can shop an influencer’s favourite items, via their recommendations or links. It’s all just one tap away, and when you make payment online, you don’t feel the pinch, and may not even notice it till your credit card bill comes.
I am aware of this as a problem. It is for this reason that, as someone with a certain level of influence online, I try to be as careful as I can when talking about products. As much as I love sharing what I love or what works for me, and hoping that you too love it or derive a benefit from it, I do not want to be that person pushing you to BUY BUY BUY!
I want for you to make an informed decision. Test the item in person. Don’t make an impulsive online purchase on my word (no matter how much you trust it! 😛 ) because some things can be expensive, and I know how hard it is to earn money.
I hope that in this regard at least, I am responsible – the rest is up to you! 😛
Does social media influence your spending habits?
I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t.
It has, in the past when I first came upon this new creature of social media. It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting everything that’s being marketed to you, whether overtly or covertly. It is easy to just click through a link, and make an online purchase of something frivolous, like a new lipstick or a new blush. Nevermind that you don’t even know what the colour looks like – you just buy it, and hope for the best.
It’s easy to see something pretty on someone in your social network, and want it as well. Online shopping makes it easy to then click through and buy it. Some impulsive purchases were made this way, some of which I regret, some of which made me spend more than necessary.
However, personal finance is something I am quite strict about so I was very careful to never spend more than I could afford. If it was a big ticket item I needed to save up for, I’d save up first.
My credit cards serve purely as a means of not carrying around large sums of money, and to stretch the time I need to make payment. I always pay each bill off in full, because I know it’s money I already have. I just don’t use it immediately.
I never fell down that spiral of debt, or living beyond my means. But I was conscious that it was easy to do so, for anyone else.
Today, I am much more careful about my spending. I have found myself spending a lot less on what I term ‘frivolities’. I don’t lead a lavish lifestyle, and I eat fairly simply with the odd splurge. I go on holidays, but I keep it within my budget. Granted, my budget might be bigger than another person’s, but it is my philosophy that there are always ways to find a bargain or a deal. You just have to work harder at finding it! 🙂
Also, each of us are at a different stage of our life. You cannot compare yours to anyone else’s because you do not know their circumstances. Some of us are older, and have lived a fuller life, or worked for longer times. Some of us are just starting out in life. This is important to understand, to avoid that FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. What you miss out on today, will come around again tomorrow 🙂
And finally, learn to not need instant gratification.
I don’t believe in ever needing anything immediately or instantly. If I can sleep on it, I do. I slept on an item I’d been lusting after, for about 10 years before finally capitulating LOL! I guess, after 10 years, I really really wanted it! 😀
What say you? Does your social network affect your spending habits?
I’d love to hear what you think! 🙂