I don’t think humans were ready for social media. It’s probably had one of the biggest social impacts in history. It’s changed the way we communicate, do business, find dates and the list could go on and on. Being able to keep in touch with your friends around the world is great, but there are definitely some downsides to it.
Since starting this blog, I’ve found myself engulfed in social media more than ever and I have to say, I’m burned out! I had cut my social media time down to only a few minutes a day and now I that I’m blogging, I feel like I spend a couple of hours a day on different social media platforms. It’s been fun interacting with people who enjoy talking about personal finance, but I think I’ve decided to cut back and focus more on writing. The readers will come eventually if I continue to improve the quality of my posts and maybe I’ll catch a second wind and be more active on social media in a few months.
Since I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve been on social media recently, I started thinking about the financial implications. You may think you aren’t spending any money on social media because you aren’t being charged for it, but there are other ways it impacts our money.
The old cliché “time is money” is true. You can only expect to be successful financially if you spend some time working on your finances and social media can suck up any free minutes you have. It may not seem like much, but when you spend 5 minutes scrolling through your phone, that could’ve been 5 minutes you spent reading something that would actually benefit you in real life. I’ve caught myself scrolling on Facebook for over an hour at a time and didn’t get any benefit from it. In fact, I probably felt worse than I did before I started scrolling.
It seems like everyone I talk to says they’re always busy and have minimal time to ever add anything new to their schedules. Me included. If we took out social media from our lives, I think this always-busy issue would almost instantly disappear. Those 5 minute increments add up over the day and the average time spent on social media is 135 minutes a day. That’s almost half a year of 40 hour work weeks we could add back to our short lives each year. Not only could you make a lot of money with this time, you could do a multitude of other things that would be more enjoyable.
Since we’ve added social media to our lives and taken away a lot of our free time, we’ve become more stressed. We’re also thinking about way more things than we used to. I used to have more to talk about with people because I didn’t know everything that was going on in their lives. Since they post all about it on the internet, I don’t have to ask what they’ve been up to because I know.
I’ve seen so many arguments on the internet it’s crazy. People aren’t afraid to say what they think hiding behind a screen and I think this has resulted in the general population being less kind.
We spend more money when we’re stressed, so the more stress we have, the more we spend. There’d be a lot less “feel good” purchases if we weren’t getting stressed about something someone said on social media.
Comparing yourself to others
I’m not sure how trends even start, but social media has magnified the fact that people love to feel like they’re cool. Everyone wants to be on the ground level when something new comes out and unfortunately, that means having to buy the latest and greatest items. The good news is that people are nostalgic, so the old styles come back around and you can buy trendy clothes at thrift stores.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that social media is filled with travel photos. It’s hard to not feel envious when you see someone post a picture of somewhere and it looks amazing. There’s great power in being contempt though. If you really need to travel, learn how to travel hack and do it for nearly free. Don’t blow $5,000 on a trip just so you can feel like you’re fitting in with society. Something I’m working on is building a home/community that I love being in. I’d like to love where I live and just travel every now and then for a change of scenery.
Is it making you happier or adding meaning to your life?
If the answer is no to one or both of those questions, you should probably consider getting on social media less. Obviously, there are some benefits to social media and I am personally keeping accounts because of that. But if it isn’t making you happier or serving a purpose in your life, what are you getting out of it?
For me, Facebook is a place where I can keep in touch with family that is living across the country. We’ve got a private family group and I can watch my niece and nephews grow without being there physically. Other than that, I get very little use out of social media other than finding new readers for this blog. I get a lot more value from reading other blogs and listening to podcasts than if I were to just scroll, hoping to see something worthwhile. So, I guess my point is to be intentional with the time you’re giving up on social media and maybe reevaluate where you spend your time if there are other things you’d like to accomplish in your life.