Social media. Ah! We all equally love it and hate it. And that love-hate relationship has slowly become one of those on-again/off-again toxic relationships that we are equally drawn to and repulsed by. My own inherent weakness keeps drawing me back again! And the only consolation is that, we are all in this boat together. We are, as a society, all equally in this desire to see what our neighbor is up to, have our own opinions validated in the form of “likes”, and show our “friends” what we are up to these days. But have you ever stopped to consider the cost of this social media way of life? Do you know how much these hours spent perusing Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram convert into actual dollars spent?
How many times have each of us scrolled through the beautiful vacation pics of an acquaintance on our Facebook feed? Or how many times have we pinned expensive 1-year-old birthday cakes on Pinterest, now thinking that these types of cakes are the new “norm” for birthdays? Or how many times have we “heart”ed the post of some fashion influencer on Instagram and felt that our own wardrobe was now lacking?
The point is, that we are ALL there. How familiar are these stories to your own? We are far from being alone feeling that our wardrobe needs to be updated based on the Instagram feed of an influencer, or that “everyone” is taking vacations except us, or even that the grocery-store purchased birthday cake that we just bought is not as good as everyone else’s …
HOW DOES #FOMO FIT IN?
FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is actually at the root of all of this. It is the new age “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Think about it, instead of now peeking over your backyard fence and feeling like you need to keep up with the neighbor on the left and the neighbor on the right, you now need to “keep up” with hundreds of unknown people: “friends” on Facebook from all walks of life, popular pins on Pinterest from only the most popular feeds, and hot influencers with thousands of followers on Instagram. You now have access to a 24/7 feed on a “best-of” showing of everyone you have ever known – and more! And the worst part is that you feel that you are somehow “less” because of it!
BUT YOU ARE WRONG
Social media if false. Social media is fake. And I know what you are thinking right now: “No, it isn’t! I know these people! These are my friends! What they are posting is real!”
And yes, you are correct! However, you are only seeing a fraction of their lives. You are seeing the best of the best. You are seeing them when they are on vacation – but not while they are scrimping and saving all year to afford that vacation. On Pinterest, you are seeing the final cake that someone thought was good enough to post on Pinterest – not the 10 other failed cakes that came before that one as practice for the perfection. You are seeing a fashion influencer promoting a new product on Instagram – but not the hours and hours that she spent building up her audience to get to a point that her promotions are worth anything.
What you are seeing is the new age of advertising. And the commercial sectors are cashing in bigtime!
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
Statistics have actually proven that people who follow Pinterest often spend MORE on items that they would not necessarily have purchased, as opposed to people who don’t follow Pinterest. And that statistic is a whopping 70%! Another surprising statistic is that 57% of people surveyed said they have made unplanned or unexpected purchases based solely on something that they saw on social media.
The problem is that social media plays on our emotions. We have a tendency to “crave” likes as a form of instant gratification. And, while our “craving” emotion is heightened, we tend to crave what we see as well. So, anything, from ads to friends' posts to Pinterest pictures, has our undivided attention.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Obviously, the answer of removing ourselves from social media is definitely not going to happen. Many have tried to “quit” social media only to pop right back up a few weeks later. Whether we wish to admit it or not, social media is simply a part of everyday life now.
But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a life of over-spending and depression and longing. There are checks and balances you can put into place in order to help navigate your way through this #FOMO way of life! One of the most important ones, as most financial advisors will say, is to put a length of time between your desire to purchase and your actual purchase. In other words, when you see something on Facebook that you wish to buy, you force yourself to stop and wait 24 hours before actually purchasing. What this does is it separates the decision from the craving. When you are in the emotional state of craving and longing, your logical and rational side is being pushed to the side. Just take some time to reflect and wait until logic is back in control before actually buying.
Another great habit to adopt into your daily life is to create a budget (and stick to it!). We cannot stress enough the importance of budgeting! For more on budgeting tips, read our blog How to Create a Budget to Save Money.
Ideally, reducing the amount of time spent on social media is also a great tool for improving not only your financial situation, but your overall wellbeing and happiness as well. While quitting altogether is probably not going to happen (as we already mentioned above), it is possible to adopt a few habits that help to reduce time spent on social media. The best trick is to log in for a longer period of time but less frequently. For example, instead of checking Facebook or Instagram every 30 minutes for 5 minutes at a time, try logging in every 2 hours but for 15 minutes. Over time, the amount of time spent on social media will be reduced and you will see a noticeable change in your overall happiness.
While we absolutely adore all of our interactions and fans on our social pages: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, we also understand the need for a bit of distance now and then. iCASH is always here when you need us for a loan or for some financial advice.