How social media got its hand in your pocket (COM0011)

 

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Social media and the so called FOMO-fear of missing out- have come together as a quite impressive duo, very competent and skilled at making you spend like a Kardashian- meaning not only big but also on things, services or experiences that you probably do not mean too or just do not need at all.  

Most users of facebook and instagram-if not all of them- do follow at least two celebrities- either actual celebrities such as hollywood actors/actresses, models, TV stars and etc,or other somewhat well known people, such as youtubers, influencers, bloggers, instagram models and so on. These celebrities tend to use their social media to showcase their more expensive lifestyles and to encourage and influence a consumer culture that most of the time is unrealistic for their followers, given that most social media users are either students, young professionals or from the working middle class.

This unrealistic or out of reach consumer culture displayed and encouraged by these celebrities becomes a problem.  It becomes a problem because users, and mostly young users develop a desire or become pressure to keep up with and to mirror the lifestyles of the people they follow on social media or even with the lifestyles of their friends and acquaintances who are also mirroring the behaviours of celebrities, but these lifestyles are not always within their means.

In addition, traditional hashtags used on Instagram, Facebook and even twitter, such as  #brunchsunday, #outandabout, #ottawafoodies, #yolo, #travelgram, #travelbloggers, #traveldiaries and others display and encourage activities that are not cheap or that add up. Think of the last time you went out for dinner or drinks, those bills are never cheap, and to make matters worse, encouraging this type of mindless consumerism has become popular in almost every aspect of people’s lives, not only when it comes to how often we travel and the places-local and otherwise-that we visit, but even in the specific types of foods that  we eat (#veganeats, #govegan), how we dress (#fashionlovers), how we feel (#goodvibesonly, #instamood), even the way in which we experience public spaces (#streetart, #streetphotography), or the books we read (#bookstagram, #bookworm), because if it is not instagram worthy, then whatever the activity is not at all worth it. Many restaurants and other businesses have even created their own social media geofilters, so that customers can share their customer experience as a means of advertisement.

So it is important to remember that behind every #cute picture, there is a price tag that comes with it, and that everyone out there is always happy and excited to showcase these pretty and fun moments, but nobody is ready to show off their bills or their credit cards’ statements.

“Monkey sees, monkey does” not only applies to millenials and younger kids though, as older adults are increasingly deciding to engage with technology and social media, they too fall prey to the online marketing of these celebrities.

Social media also makes it very easy for “influencers” and instagram models to advertise the use of beauty, fashion, diet and fitness products, that users don’t always realize are being sponsored by brands and corporations. Videos on skincare routines or clothing hauls are not the only ones to blame though, when it comes to social media it is very easy for brands and corporations to get you to follow their online shopping sites or bombard you with their  paid ads, promotions and discounts as you are scrolling down your instagram or facebook profile, making users susceptible to buying products they had no intention of getting.

 

 

Sources:

“The Effects of Social Media on Consumerism.” The Digital Age, 6 Aug. 2018, http://blogs.unsw.edu.au/thedigitalage/blog/2018/07/the-effects-of-social-media-on-consumerism/

Jones, Leila. “Are We Overspending Because Of Social Media?” And Then We Saved, 23 Feb. 2017, andthenwesaved.com/overspending-social-media/.

 

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