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For young social media users, it has become increasingly popular to dream about becoming an online influencer making millions of dollars each year simply by creating new videos or posting new photos. And that trend is very dangerous, according to a growing number of financial counselors and wealth professionals. As they see it, social media has a “dark side” that can have very negative consequences for one’s financial health.
How NOT to become a millionaire on social media
There are several factors that contribute to the “dark side” of social media. One is the propensity to make impulse purchases based on what one sees on social media. Think about all those fabulous creators rocking some amazing fashion outfits, or all those amazing influencers encouraging you to sign up for online courses. The truth of the matter is that these influencers make money every time you click and purchase, usually through affiliate links, so they have every incentive to get you to open up your wallet and spend money.
And that’s just the start. There are also the targeted ads that seem to follow you wherever you go online. Social media platforms are very good at tracking your behaviors, your likes and interests, and even your hidden preferences that you haven’t told anyone else about. Thus, it can sometimes seem that you are constantly being tempted to buy things, even if you can’t afford to do so. If social media platforms, for example, know that you’ve been doing some online research for the ultimate summer vacation, get ready for all kinds of “unbelievable” travel deals in your social media feeds.
Finally, there’s the fear of missing out (FOMO). In the old days, this used to be called “Keeping Up With the Joneses.” Basically, if you see that your next-door neighbor suddenly has a new car, then you might feel compelled to buy a new car also. And if your next-door neighbor is remodeling the house, then you might want to do so also. Well, the same phenomenon occurs on social media, and it can be horribly destructive. Everyone, it seems, is leading such a fabulous life. There are exotic vacations, expensive dinners curated by celebrity chefs, and lots of upscale designer clothing to purchase. So you feel like you have to be doing the same.
The downward spiral
Even worse, there appears to be a huge emotional and psychological toll that all this takes. Right now, 20% of Generation Z spends at least 5 hours per day (!) on social media platforms. That’s a lot of scrolling, swiping, and tapping. And it’s also a lot of video consumption. Even if you don’t turn on the TV once, you might be watching 5 hours of video content per day!
And, according to these wealth management professionals, this can lead to a downward spiral. Suddenly, you feel demotivated. You feel like a failure. How is it possible that everyone else is enjoying such an amazing life, and you’re still stuck in a 9-to-5 grind? That makes you even more susceptible to all those “get-rich-quick” schemes on social media, in which people are supposedly generating thousands of dollars in passive income each month, doing nothing.
How to get out of this negative cycle?
The good news is that there is a way out. You might not want to hear the answer, but here it is anyway: cut back on your social media usage. You’ll spend less time pondering impulse buys, less time trying to keep up with the Joneses, and less time plagued by anxiety and financial despair. You can still act and think like a millionaire, but you won’t do so by buying unnecessary things you see advertised on social media.