The following is an extract from Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod.
Stop Making Presumptions About Other People’s Finances
You are categorically not the only one struggling to make ends meet. As we don’t live in a Communist society, inequality is a fact of life. But social media can make everything seem even more unequal than it actually is. Yes, the Rich Kids of Instagram are probably spending your annual salary in an evening, but there are also those who attempt to imitate a wealthy lifestyle just for the 'gram. Ask any hotel concierge or boutique owner and they will tell you how many people come in just to take an image in the lobby or dressing room and upload the image to social media as if they were staying at the property or actually buying the things they’ve tried on. Even IKEA has its share of fantasists, who use the merchandised sets as if they were their own homes for social media shots (especially for Tinder apparently…). Products can be purchased, photographed and returned; just because someone posts a picture from an expensive restaurant doesn’t mean they ordered more than a coffee.
Of course, these are all pretty deliberate levels of Instasham, and most people will not be going to such lengths to inflate the material aspects of their lives. But the guiding principle of sharing the very best sides of our existence means many people consume in a conspicuous way – "it didn’t happen unless it’s on Facebook". But again, you have no idea how much it all goes on to plastic or, in the case of influencers, how much of this stuff has been gifted. Just as most people look more attractive on social media, so do their bank balances. Don’t let yourself be fooled – you’re under no pressure to keep up with anyone’s online presence, especially because it’s not even their real life.
Just as most people look more attractive on social media, so do their bank balances.
Once-In-A-Lifetime Experiences Don’t Happen Every Week
Knowing what "once in a lifetime" actually means to you is the first step to gaining back some control. Make time to consider and write an entirely personalised bucket list of things that you really want to do – things that actually mean something to you. It could be places that you’ve dreamed of travelling, physical challenges you’ve hoped to overcome or simply a quiet retreat somewhere (perhaps one with a no-phone policy!). Then, when other opportunities come up, you’ll be in a good place to know whether they are worth the investment or not. And keep in mind that people who seem to flit from one amazing experience to another cannot logically be passionate about all of them. Living for content is just no way to exist – especially if you want a financially secure future.
Nothing Worth Having Comes For Free
Again, depressing, but sadly true. While you may not see the work in action, every successful person will tell you that their success is built off the back of graft. You’re not getting promoted unless you prove yourself. Ultimately anyone can fail if they don’t put the legwork in. While you might roll your eyes at hearing social media stars talk about their workload, it’s worth remembering that if it were so easy to build a successful social media business, everyone would have quit their jobs and be running successful YouTube channels by now. Most social media mavens are workaholics, who don’t really understand the meaning of downtime, and the competition is fierce. As Victoria Magrath, the face behind the "Inthefrow" blog and YouTube channel, explains, "You could look at my social platforms and think I live my life in paradise. And, yes, I can physically be there. But wherever I travel will include hours of time spent inside my hotel room working. I remember one work trip my boyfriend Alex and I did to Mykonos, and it was absolutely beautiful. But we did maybe three or four photoshoots per day and when we weren’t shooting we were sat in a shaded area until the sun set, just editing, editing, writing, writing, shooting, shooting. Literally we arrived home and we’d just worked solid. When your business is content, everything is a picture opportunity." There are cons to the pros, just like any other job, and the pictures only tell one part of the story.
Keep in mind that behind every social media post there is some element of work. For every staycation I post about, I’ve also had days and days sitting at my desk working on copywriting or marketing text – some of which is not sexy or exciting at all. But that’s how I pay my bills, and you have to respect the work as much as the rewards. Also, people’s lives are much more ordinary than they look on social media – their parents probably don’t drive Porsches, they most likely didn’t grow up in a mansion. Keep your expectations grounded in reality and make decisions based on your long-term financial priorities rather than short-term FOMO issues. God, it sounds like a slog, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Final note: remember, if you marry only for money, you’ll be paying for the rest of your life. Just in case you were considering that option…
Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod, £12.99, is out now, published by Cassell