I follow hundreds of people on the popular social media platform: Instagram. Many have referred to Instagram as a “highlight reel” of ones own life. Nailed it. People post what they want you to see. They want you to see them at music festivals, eating out, and sporting their latest fashion finds. As a viewer, I give praise, and even downright envy some people who seem to live a “better” life than me. And I’m not only referring to Instagram models, I’m talking about people I know and even my own friends.
What goes on in our minds
I see they have somehow made it to three music festivals this year and think to myself; ‘I need to be more fun, money is just money’. I see they eat out at nice restaurants regularly and think to myself: ‘there’s a cute bakery a few miles away that would be such a cute post’. I see them in amazing clothes and think to myself: ‘If I put less money toward my 401(K), that would be one shopping spree a month and I could dress like that’.
We spend more. We spend more to attend the parties and events just to post about it. We eat out more so that we can tag our location in the Instastory. We charge our credit card so we have the latest shoe that is all over our feed.
We constantly chase a lifestyle that is beyond our means.
We all do it. Even the people we ‘envy’ are doing it to follow someone else. Over 30% of millennials have $0 in their savings account. And roughly 70% have high balances on their credit cards. We are drowning. And it’s because we try to keep up with an unrealistic unattainable lifestyle.
What needs to happen
We need to realize that Instagram isn’t reality, far from it. That the smiling people we see in posts are just like us, with good days and bad, and most likely worrying about how they are going to afford their next vacation, too. I know nothing huge will change, posters are still gonna post; but if we can take a step back and realize what’s happening, maybe we can inch our way toward smarter monetary decisions for ourselves.