Facebook is no longer a fad. (“Really Jake? This is 2014. And you just figured this out?”). Yes. I’m a little slow. Sorry.
But what I mean is that Facebook has replaced a lot of social norms that used to occur OUTSIDE OF THE INTERNET. Things like saying “hi” or “happy birthday” no longer involve going anywhere, or even picking up a phone. No, most social interaction these days involves Facebook.
And I’m ok with that. But you need to be aware of how it affects you, and the world around you. Specifically, I want to talk about the financial implications of Facebook on your personal pocketbook.
Facebook Makes ALL Your ‘Friends’ Your Neighbor
Facebook has brought all of your distant friends and relatives to your doorstep, and even inside your home and lives, for better or worse. Hundreds of people across the world can now browse the most intimate details of your life, and build perceptions and opinions about you in mere seconds. And you can do the same to hundreds of our “friends”, bringing everyone closer, building open relationships, and harmony and kindness abound!
Or that’s how things should work. But let’s be real, here’s how it really works:
- You see someone post about their awesome trip to Whereversville
- You show your significant other/friend/dog the pictures, and realize that is where you want to be right now
- You hop over Google and lookup “cheap vacations to Whereversville” and start planning the vacation
- You can’t actually afford the vacation, are still in debt, and haven’t visited my Free Travel page, so you just plan on going into further debt to go on “the trip you deserve”
- You post pictures of your trip on Facebook with captions like “Oh, you know, just swimming with the Dolphins in Sunnyville. BEST VACA EVAR! #dolphins #flipper #sunglasses #beach #sand #swimmingwithdolphinswearingsunglassesnearthesandybeachyay!”
And $3,500 in debt later, you go back to your life of mundane boringness and once again hop on Facebook to see what your “friends” are up to.
Oh no! They just bought a new car!
You Are Now Competing With Hundreds Of “The Joneses”
Here’s the problem, Facebook is not truly an open window into someone’s life. It’s actually a rose-colored window showing only what they want you to see, and usually it’s framed in the most positive manner possible. All the pictures show a narrow view of the life they want you to perceive, and not the reality that they truly live.
Real life relationships have a way of cutting through a lot of this façade, but now that “The Jonses” have complete control of what you do and don’t see, you are only shown the envy-inducing side of life. And that has a way of subtly creeping into your wallet and draining your extra cash.
And tell me I’m wrong! Have you NEVER once thought to yourself “man, why wasn’t I invited?”, or “it would be nice to have money to do that!” I will admit I am guilty of the same. Facebook has turned into a non-stop marketing campaign, but we’re doing it to ourselves, and we’re way more convincing salespeople than, say, an infomercial campaign.
And it’s not just the big things. It’s food, paint colors, home décor, outdoor activities, sports, fashion, kids, travel, and anything else you can think of wanting to do that you are not currently doing.
It’s human nature to want to present yourself in the best light possible. And heck, most people probably don’t even know they are doing it. But it’s inevitable that as social networks grow, so will the need to digitally compete with “The Joneses”, and that is going to keep people broke.
So, What Do We Do?
First of all, GET OFF OF FACEBOOK! Americans spend over 3 hours a day on social networks, most of that time on Facebook. Contrary to popular belief, life can be lived offline, and even enjoyed! And less time online means less time in front of ads and “The Joneses”, which means less time coveting other people’s stuff, which means less brain power spent on ways to blow through money, which means less time wasted on crap that doesn’t matter and more time spent observing the wonderful world around you and getting a real grasp on what your priorities really are.
Second, you can’t resist financial temptations, unless you have something better to do with your money. You need to set goals for your hard earned cash, giving your money bumper lanes to live within. You need to find what motivates you. In short, you need a budget.
“Really, Jake? You’re going to tell us to cure our Facebook envy with a spreadsheet?”
A budget isn’t just a spreadsheet, it’s your hopes and dreams spelled out in numerical form. It’s roadmap for an escape from the normal (broke) middle-class life. It’s freedom condensed into a few line items per month. And it’s so simple to get started.