Our obsession with social media has often been maligned as destroying our real life social lives, breaking down the fourth wall between our perception of reality and the digital world, but have you ever considered how social media hurts your wallet? It can be as insipid of giving you the kind of FOMO that forces you to book an "essential" holiday to St. Barths on your already maxed out credit card and live just as fabulous a life as Shelley from accounting who you swear, is always on exotic vacations. Or it might be as obvious as the Kardashians literally being screen-to-screen sales people for Fit Tea -- which you've filed your pantry with but still don't really know what it does. Here's how your social media habits could be hurting your wallet.
1. By creating a warped perception of what your life should look like
Being on social media all the time can create a giant disconnect between what's real and what's carefully curated. Generally, when you see people's decadent meals, cute outfits, and lavish vacations littered across your Facebook feed, those aren't accidental. Your friends, family, acquaintances and strangers you follow go to great pains to take and edit perfect images that don't necessarily reflect the reality of their lives at all. A constant string of these can make you feel like your life is somehow inadequate -- and likely because you're not buying a barista made latte every day, getting on a plane to some luxury beach location every other weekend, or stuffing your wardrobe with Gucci handbags and Louboutin pumps.
2. By encouraging aspirational spending
Because social media blurs the line between "need" and "want", you might find yourself inspired to reach into your wallet for things that are entirely unnecessary -- and not in your budget. When you think your life should look a certain way based on what you see online, it can motivate you to start splashing cash on things that have no business being splashed upon. The un-real lives you see online can encourage aspirational spending -- that is spending on things you don't need, that are way outside your budget, but you feel will make your life a certain way if you own them. "If I buy this cashmere twinset, I'll be the put together kind of person who wears cashmere twinsets!"
3. You’re constantly being spruiked products and you might not even realize it
Sure, it's obvious the Kardashians are selling you Fit Tea -- they pretty much shove that stuff down your throat on social media. But what about all the celebrities and "Insta-famous" or YouTube stars who are more covertly spruiking products? Whether your favorite beauty blogger is bragging about a new, expensive illuminator on Instagram, or your favorite musician is Tweeting pictures of themselves at a Nike event, pretty much every product placement you see on the social media account of someone with a large following is an endorsement. Remember that they're being paid some obscene amount to post this stuff -- funded on the basis that you then go out and spend.
4. Those targeted ads that are really, terrifyingly on point
Ever noticed how crazy good Facebook is at filling your feed with things you want to buy? Targeted ads on social media have stepped up their game -- Google is watching you and things that you maybe, probably, definitely want to buy are popping up in your targeted social media ads. Whereas these ads used to be annoying and irrelevant, now they're boasting handbags ON SALE from the site you were just browsing three days ago. The temptation to buy is real on social media, where opportunities are literally wagged in front of your eyes every time you log on and scroll.
5. The viral marketing that makes you want to travel to another city just to eat a fancy bagel
Even news outlets are making thirty second videos designed to make you want to buy stuff, so huge has the notion of "virality" become. When a product or service goes viral, your impetus to seek it out and spend increases exponentially. Viral marketing means that quirky, on trend products -- the kind of stuff you never even knew you needed (which, hint, means you don't need) -- infiltrate your daily life with ease. Without social media you'd be more than happy to have never have even heard of a cronut. But because of social media, you've probably spent at least $5, or even up to $40, on one, haven't you?