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.