Ignore #YOLO #FOMO – social media isn’t real life

Remember when the first season of 24 was must-watch television around the world? The innovative concept – following agent Jack Bauer in real time through every second of 24 hours over one incredibly tough day – ramped up the tension to nail-biting levels. Until some sceptical joker asked, ‘When exactly does Jack Bauer go to the bathroom?’

Kiefer Sutherland, the actor playing Jack, had an answer ready – ‘During the commercial breaks, like everyone else’. But this exchange does highlight something we often forget – when you’re telling a story, you edit out the boring bits. Even so-called ‘reality’ TV shoots hours and hours of footage every week before editing it down to the 50 minutes that are worth broadcasting.

It’s the same with social media, which is meant to enable you to connect with friends and family so you can keep up with what’s going on in their lives. All too often, though, these platforms can make you feel like everyone’s living their best life except you. The homes they live in, the cars they drive, the parties they throw, the clothes and accessories they buy – it’s easy to feel like there’s something wrong with you if your life isn’t as glamorous.

Social-media lifestyles are carefully curated

It’s important to remind yourself that not everything on social media is what it seems. Many people use online platforms to show off an idealised version of their lives, not the reality. How many people really drink champagne every day? How many people can really afford to be changing expensive cars so often? And what bits of their life are they editing out? They won’t be showing off a clogged-up swimming pool or an empty fridge, if they’re only using social media to show off their bling and make others envious.


Reconnect with the real world and real people and focus on building your real life


The whole pursuit of status by buying things is a false façade to begin with, and when it comes to making better money choices, it helps to live in the real world. As the old saying goes, be yourself. Live your life and don’t obsess about comparing yourself to other people. You don’t have to be like anyone else to lead a happy life – in fact, the opposite may be true. Chasing after the false status you see on social media can lure you into spending more than you can afford and leave you miserable.

Save for the future instead of showing off

It’s always better to save your money and invest it wisely, rather than spending to impress. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you can afford to save, what’s important is to start right away – never procrastinate. If you’re young, imagine the wealth you can build over 20 or 40 years if you forget about expensive brands and rather open a Nedbank savings or investment account? You should also think of opening a retirement account – it can make a huge difference if you start early, no matter how much you can afford.

Early savings give you a head-start in life. In a few years, your savings could turn into a sizeable deposit that you can put towards a car or a house – many of the people you follow on social media today might not be in such a favourable position. Shunning fake lifestyles to concentrate on your real-life goals makes a lot of sense.

Tips to help you live within your means

We have numerous blogs designed to help you make better money choices. These include creating a budget and maintaining a healthy credit score, so that you can access credit on favourable terms. Always remember that affordable and sustainable beats ‘glamorous’ – if you want to live your best life, take expert advice on managing your money and live within your means.

And if you find that social media makes you feel anxious or less satisfied about your own life, it might be time to log off for a while. Reconnect with the real world and real people and focus on building your real life. It’s so much more rewarding than the superficial illusions people share on social media.