It happened so subtly.
I was casually scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed when a 2018 savings challenge caught my eye. It wasn’t the usual “save $1 a week” challenge; this was a more intense version that dared participants to put away between $150-$200 weekly. Anyone that successfully completed this challenge would have $7000 saved by the end of the year. For a (now) habitual saver, the challenge seemed frightening and exhilarating to me. My mind started racing with ways to come up with each amount every week. Then I panicked about how I would be able to save that much when I only get paid once a month.
Didn’t I JUST say a few weeks ago what my financial challenge would be for the new year??? Yet here I am, getting worked up over a post that literally has nothing to do with me. I don’t know if I’m just easily influenced or if social media has mysterious powers (or both). This isn’t the first time that I’ve set a specific goal, only to be distracted by social media.
The power of social media can be good, but it can also be a distraction while reaching your own personal goals—if you let it be. No matter where you’re at in life, there is always someone with goals that seem much greater than your own. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is more prevalent than ever, since you can log in daily to see exactly what the Joneses are doing. Feeling excited about that road trip you’re taking to Colorado next summer? That’s nice, a friend of a friend just posted that she’ll be in Barbados then. Proud of yourself for getting a raise at your non-profit job? Aww, how sweet. Your former college classmate has announced that he landed a new gig at Apple.
I thought I would escape the feeling of not having or doing enough once I focused on becoming financially stable, but I proved myself wrong. Paying off debt can feel like a competition on social media too, even if it’s all in your head. Putting an extra $50 towards debt every month seems like pennies when you’re following people that pay thousands of dollars on theirs.
This is why a sub-goal of mine for this year is to keep my social media consumption to a minimum. I’ve had my moments where I disconnected from social media altogether for a couple months. It was liberating, but for the sake of finding potential topics to blog about, I won’t be going to that extreme. Instead, I will check my accounts 2-3 times a day, for no more than 20 minutes each. This will prevent me from mindlessly scrolling for hours as I dig myself into a rabbit hole of unworthiness and self-doubt. If I see anything like the savings challenge mentioned earlier, I will remind myself it’s an awesome goal to reach, but not for me right now.
Like credit cards, it’s easy to say that social media is the devil. However, just like with credit cards, you can make the choice to use social media as a tool to benefit yourself, or let it use you. This year, I’m making the decision to use it for my benefit.
Do you find yourself influenced by what you see on social media? Do you have to limit yourself from scrolling through your newsfeed for hours?