What’s the emoji for ‘broke’?


Sad-faced emoji + In­sta­gram sym­bol + err, what’s the emoji for no money?

OK, me try­ing to write a money col­umn in emoji was doomed to fail. It may be the lan­guage of the fu­ture, but I’m not flu­ent in it.

What I was try­ing to say is so­cial me­dia sites like In­sta­gram can make young peo­ple un­happy, and keep them poor. Ex­po­sure to fake life­styles, fake hap­pi­ness, fake gor­geous makes it hard to see your own life as great.

And that’s where the money prob­lem lies.

Young peo­ple aren’t be­ing tempted to keep up with the Jone­ses next door as we less body- and style-con­scious older folk are. They’re be­ing tempted to keep up with the fake Jone­ses’ life­styles pre­sented on YouTube, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter.

I learnt some new phrases for this from Sta­tus of Mind, a re­port from Bri­tain’s Royal So­ci­ety for Public Health (RSPH), con­cerned with the unique pres­sures on 16- to 24-year-olds, who are im­mersed in so­cial me­dia.

The phrases were new to me, but they lift the cur­tain on the spend­ing pres­sures young folk face, though the re­port does not men­tion money once.

This is the ‘‘fear of miss­ing out’’. Ev­ery­one wants a good life, but on so­cial me­dia a good life comes across as dull. Your life has to be amaz­ing.

Gone is the vague aware­ness that some­one else, some­where else, has it bet­ter than you.

‘‘Young peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a prac­ti­cally end­less stream of other peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences that can po­ten­tially fuel feel­ings that they are miss­ing out on life, whilst oth­ers en­joy theirs,’’ RSPH says.

On so­cial me­dia, young peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a ‘‘high­lights reel’’ of other peo­ple’s lives. The more FOMO a young per­son ex­pe­ri­ences, the more likely they’ll reck­lessly find them­selves say­ing the next phrase.

This is ‘‘you only live once’’. YOLO is the mantra young peo­ple use to jus­tify spend­ing an amount of money on some­thing they want, but can’t re­ally af­ford. But though YOLO may feel like wis­dom tested by the masses, it is false wis­dom.

Yes, you only live once, but that’s less of a rea­son to buy that coat, or get a loan to buy a car, than it is to take the bus to work and get your house de­posit to­gether faster.

Com­pare and de­spair is the phrase the RSPH used for the feel­ing you get when you are over-ex­posed to other peo­ple’s high­light reels.

Try­ing to mea­sure up can eas­ily re­sult in a young per­son reach­ing for the eft­pos card (or worse, a credit card) in a bid to have what they be­lieve oth­ers have, re­gard­less of whether it makes fi­nan­cial sense for them.

So­cial me­dia isn’t all evil, of course. RSPH found it could be a source of great sup­port and joy for young peo­ple.

But it does look like older fam­ily mem­bers may have to work harder to help their younger re­la­tions de­velop the fi­nan­cial sense to re­sist so­cial me­dia’s pres­sure to spend and impress.

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