In a sobering statistic, on average we spend 6 hours a week shopping and only 40 minutes playing with our kids. Surprised? Now, you may be thinking…that’s not right, “I don’t shop that much” or “I don’t have kids” so that doesn’t apply to me. Maybe reimagine it this way–on average your typical American spends over 7 hours a day in front of a screen over 2 hours of that is spent on social media. What is social media if not a marketing tool used to sell us stuff? Out of the 2 hours a day you spend looking at social media posts, what percentage of that time then translates to you purchasing something? I know I am so guilty of this… scrolling the beautifully curated pictures of Instagram daily, I almost always will stop and see an amazing dress, or the perfect spring outfit that would be just the thing for xyz, and convenient a little link to the product is provided, but shit it’s too $$$, but wait that company offers Afterpay, I can buy more and spend less and just make interest free payments! WIN! Or not so much…because after you get said item, a couple weeks later there you are doing the same thing all over again. BUYING MORE STUFF DOES NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY. With the help of “influencers” we get stuck in this revolving door of “FOMO” where there will be no happiness because there is no end to the stuff they sell to reach that lifestyle ideal, and you will always be left wanting.
What is Affluenza?
Affluenza is defined as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more” Affluenza Movie . It’s easy to roll your eyes and believe that doesn’t apply to you and explain away the things you purchase as necessity, but at what point is enough, enough? As Americans we are beyond privileged with the way of life we’re accustomed to, so much so that the excess of things is actually a problem. Not only do we acquire more debts, we are also producing more waste which is environmentally taxing on our planet. As a consumer driven society, we as Americans consume A LOT which makes our waste production insane.
The average North American consumes:
5x more than a person from Mexico
10x more than a Chinese person
30x more than a person from India
Role of Social Media:
Social media is a powerful tool to send messages out to the public, right now the majority of those messages are telling us to buy more, spend more, look a certain way, and you’ll get a obtain a certain lifestyle, and that is what they are ultimately trying to sell you on a “lifestyle”. A lifestyle that you can never obtain by spending what minimal funds you do have on things that won’t add value to your life. Because of the power social media does have, it can be harnessed to do so much good. There are countless campaigns that are geared toward helping the environment, volunteering, promoting cleaner lifestyles, etc. we as the social media culture just need to be purposeful in engaging in that type of content.
Being more purposeful
It’s not to say that all influences are cogs in the big corporate machine and are evil for selling us stuff, but we need to be more aware as viewers and ultimately consumers. There are ways to shop without being wasteful, one way is to purchase from brands that are eco friendly as well as ethical and sustainable, another is thrifting-by buying used you are reducing waste ending up in landfills, and using clothes apps like Depop (form of thrifting), or utilizing services like Renttherunway.
For me, limiting some of that influence in my life has been useful, asking myself, “does this post make me happy” or “is this influencing me in a positive way” if not I “unfollow”. It doesn’t do us much good to constantly subject ourselves to an ideal that isn’t obtainable and frankly just wouldn’t make your quality of life any better.
Next time you’re swiping your days away on social media, stop and ask yourself, “will this make my life better? Is this something I NEED? before that impulse buy…and if you think you do need that item, you might already be infected with Affluenza ; )
For more reading :
A good resource for understanding sustainable fashion.
List of eco friendly and ethical brands
Stay informed on environmental news
Rent don’t buy