Is Social Media Keeping You in Debt?

by Ryan Yates on June 20, 2013

In a simpler time, folks were only envious of what their neighbors had – a bigger house, a newer car, or even a better lawn.

Things have definitely changed.

Personally, I go back and forth on social media. One day I’ll appreciate the ease of communication and the ability to keep in touch . . . but the next day I’ll be cursing this dreaded technology. There are many potentially negative consequences to sharing too much personal information online.

But this article isn’t necessarily a warning to keep your private lives private – it’s about the relationship between personal spending habits and knowing what everyone else spends their money on.

Whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Imgur, Circles, or even the newly-redesigned Myspace (or the countless other social media platforms), one thing will always remain the same – we humans are nosy.

Whether it’s celebrities or our neighbors, we want to know what people have. But we also want people to envy us, so we delight in showing off our stuff to be the center of attention and desire for the world to see.

The Human Condition

Envy is a very prominent human characteristic. The more we see the things we want, the desire continually grows within us until we can’t hold back the temptation anymore – we must have it (sorry if I sound like I’m quoting Silence of the Lambs).

In this age of social media, where we can look into the lives of just about anyone who wants to pull the curtains back, it’s like where almost living inside a 24/7 shopping channel. When our friends check in at a restaurant, the idea of eating out gets planted in our brains.

Think about it, what’s one of the first things people do when they buy something (it doesn’t even have to be a huge purchase)? They post it online, showing the world what they have. And we want what they have, so we spend the money to get it.

And again, as if avoiding temptations of wanting what others have isn’t enough of a challenge, we have to resist the urge to buy things for the purpose of making others envious of us.

We Are Still to Blame

Although it would be easy to blame social media if you window shop on Facebook, you can’t completely avoid the blame yourself. Completely blaming social media for your overspending would be like blaming your neighbors for buying a new car and making you want one too.

It’s interesting to note that the birth of the middle class (according to scholars) began in church. History shows us that there was a very small group of people in the thirteenth century who earned a fraction of a percent more than the poorest commoners.

And what did this group of people spend that extra money on? Better clothes! They wanted to dress like the clergy whom they saw multiple times a week veiled in the finest fashions. Don’t we do the same things today when we buy knockoffs of designer fashions or try to get into a luxury apartment – because we deserve it don’t we!

It’s an interesting story – whether or not it’s entirely accurate. The point, however, is that we can’t blame anyone but ourselves for spending too much money. It’s our decision, and it should be our will power that wins the battle over those outside influences.