Ignoring social media

Modern Keyboard With Colored Social Network Buttons.

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The world of social media is a complex and divisive one. It’s connected the human race through near instant messaging and allows us to find information on an individual on the other side of the planet with the click of a button.

Not only can you bother close family and friends with your (constant) baby photos, social outings and holidays snaps, but you can also extend that reach to Karen who you met in Majorca once back in 2005.

Over recent years, I’ve seen a redirection of my frustrations towards social media from the relentlessness of those such as the above, to the persistence of individuals promoting unsustainable lifestyle expectations or bad financial practices.

Yeah, Karen posting about her kids for the 808th time that week might be annoying, but it’s pretty harmless; people seem to forget there’s an ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ option when moaning about this sort of thing.

Social media becomes an issue once lifestyles are distorted to show life as a constant string of great and amazing events and good times, but continue be portrayed as the norm and that if your own life were to be anything but amazing, you’re doing something wrong and missing out. This sort of thing has long been discussed as one of the key causes in the rise in depression in young people in the 21st century* (and I would be surprised if this doesn’t apply to all age groups).

These lifestyles are often in stark contrast to reality. Life has its ups and downs and you try to deal with it accordingly.

I became disillusioned with social media once everyone emigrated from Facebook to Instagram back in college. Everyone portrays themselves as unique, world travellers, yet all the pictures look the same.

People long for more followers, but unless you’re getting something out of it that genuinely betters you as a person, what is the point in a slightly higher number next to your profile picture except that incredibly brief hit of feeling popular?

I get that it’s a sort of dopamine fix – to see the physical embodiment of your online popularity increasing as your numbers grow – but there will always be the next best social media platform around the corner where you’ll have to start all over from zero, and there will always be that higher number of followers or likes you want to reach.

 

Those next best platforms…

It was MySpace, in 2003, that really kicked off the online, social media revolution we now couldn’t imagine life without, this was quickly succeeded by Facebook in 2004. Before this you had the likes of Six Degrees (yeah, who?) and Friendster. You then had people moving to Twitter (founded in 2006) after its popularity soared, allowing you to get closer to your favourite celebrities. Even the mighty Twitter has found its popularity subside and make way for Instagram, founded in 2010. This is before accounting for the other social channels such as YouTube, Tumblr and Reddit alongside many, many others.

It’s difficult to keep up, with many being better off following similar principles to following FI: keep it simple, keep it purposeful.

You don’t need to have all these different apps telling you the same thing, where you ultimately just end up following the same people, mindlessly closing one app to then open the next one and scroll through the same monotonous swathe of useless information.

Try a spot of digital minimalism and clear your online presence down to one platform and see if your life ends…I’m betting it doesn’t.

 

Breaking with a habit 

Deleting most of my accounts, or simply never having one, allowed me to free up my time and focus my time and energy elsewhere. It seems impossible, but like the gym, once you’ve gone once, it becomes habit.

Saying that, the whole thing is habitual. You don’t need it, but it’s become such an ingrained and routine part of our lives it feels like our days aren’t complete without it.

Much like our current politics at the moment, people become disillusioned when this ideal becomes constant and unrelenting with no break in-between to sit back and reflect on what you should actually be taking away from it, or to realise what part actually matters to you.

I personally have never held a personal Twitter or Instagram account; I’ve just never seen the point when I already had Facebook. A lot of friends migrated to one or the other, or both, but they all seemed to do relatively the same thing so it just seemed a little bit of an overkill.

Snapchat is the most recent victim of my social media culling; I hated the section below your friend’s stories that included awful, clickbait news articles and ‘influencers’ flashing their cash claiming: ‘6 easy ways to make money online’.

 

Financial traps of social media

Ignoring social media also avoids the multitude of adverts and financial temptations that these influencers constantly thrust upon their loyal (often very young and impressionable) followers.

Social media has become awash with people claiming they can teach you to become a successful trader with one simple course.

One such example is forex trading. Forex trading – or foreign currency and exchange trading – is a process of exchanging currency for another with the aim to profit off of the rise in that currency in relation to the wider market. This can be a perfectly legitimate form of trading, but requires incredible amounts of understanding, research and, like with anything, luck.

For 99% of people, this will not be the best investment option; the only guarantee is that the individual charging you for their ‘expertise’ will be the one making the money.

Think about it, if these people are THAT good at trading, and if it really made them a millionaire in their 20s, then why are they wasting their time teaching you how to do it for a measly few hundred quid? Why wouldn’t they just continue trading and making way more money?

Influencer merchandise is another huge industry designed to pry money away from gullible, overly loyal followers. It’s usually low-quality crap like t-shirts and accessories that anyone could make and design themselves for half the price. For example, a £25 pair of socks – I wish I was joking. This is then usually explained away as contributing to the upkeep of the channel or page…then the week after comes the multi-million-pound house tour or rented expensive flat in London.

Finally, when they’ve squeezed enough money out of you with their own merchandise, they can often be found flogging someone else’s crap through a sponsorship. They’ll claim to love the product, and preach how it’s changed their life, but really, they couldn’t care less. They’re getting a whacking great bit of dosh for something they’ve (let’s be honest) never used, and something you definitely don’t need. If I hear one more Dollar Shave Club sponsor, I’ll eat my own face.

*

I don’t want to sound like some old ‘fuddy duddy’; there’s definitely a time and a place for social media, but it doesn’t have to command your every, waking second.

It’s liberating to delete it and realise you don’t actually have to keep comparing yourself to your mate who just bought a house or a brand new car (chances are it’s on finance anyway).

It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. We can all do with taking some time to reflect on that message and how it applies to our own lives, and how we go about seeking, and finding, better financial health in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

* https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/822/822.pdf – Social media on young people

 

4 thoughts on “Ignoring social media

  1. Agreed AMM, cutting out social media has been great for my life. You tend to keep in touch with the people who matter anyway (generally through WhatsApp in my case). The big thing with the kids these days is TikTok though 😉

    Like

    1. Definitely! I just ran out of steam keeping up with it all, and find that I rarely compare myself to others because I just don’t have the means to do so 🙂

      I’ve heard people at work talking about Tik Tok. I’m gathering it’s some sort of Vine app spin off?

      Like

  2. I think I have a mostly healthy relationship with my social media.

    I have Facebook and probably check it once a week if that – perhaps more if I’m posting to say happy birthday to someone.

    I have LinkedIn (for colleagues/ex-colleagues), which I probably check once a month.

    I’ve never had Instagram or Snapchat or Pinterest or Tik Tok. I rarely use YouTube, except to watch music videos, although I did watch them when I was gaming to see how to kill end-game bosses etc. I can’t name a single ‘influencer’.

    I use Whatsapp daily for friends and family and my only vice is probably checking Twitter too much if anything, although usually it’s diving into something financial or investing related, so educational in a way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah there’s definitely nothing wrong with finding a balance. I do use Reddit a fair bit, but, as you mentioned, it’s a great educational tool and what ultimately got me into taking my finances seriously through r/PersonalFinance 🙂

      Like

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