What is the actual cost of Social Media on Millennials?

Millennials: “Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial.”

Why do people keep using social networks?

The basic answer is connectivity; to be connected to the rest of the world. As more people join the ever-growing list of social media networks, the more useful they become – a part of routine, whether that be checking up on family on the other side of the planet, or just checking their feed. The networks that nearly everyone knows and (possibly) uses are; Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. The main power houses have monopolised the social media marketplace. With the millions of users on Instagram and Twitter, to the billions of people on Facebook it’s easy to see how they have remained so popular.

However with every action (posting online) comes an equal and opposite reaction- comments and likes and (in terms of social media), possible online hate. Online shaming and online trolling has become an epidemic across the internet, whether it be in the form of hateful comments on an Instagram post, or a YouTube comment etc. If you have spent any time on the internet you may well have seen this type of comment or post which publicly shame people.

With people living through their black mirrors and the tips of their fingers, it’s easy to see why these online public shamings have consequences, on a small and large scale. Large scale consequences can be to get the abusive user banned from the network, down to the smaller scale of just deleting the comments or blocking the negative users.

With social media influencers having the latest-and-greatest gadgets and gizmos, the best cars, and the biggest houses, it’s easy to see why people would want to become like that, and live that lifestyle. The real question is; are the likes on your post really worth all the hassle? To some, the hassle of editing photos for hours on end, finding the perfect hashtags, getting X amount of followers, is worth it to them to achieve that perceived lifestyle. How far are you willing to go to live a second life online; the one that you live through social media platforms – from buying the latest clothes, to choosing a holiday location and to being pressured to fit that body size and standard that you see online?

What effect does this have on millennials?

Not everyone lives through their phone, but some millennials may feel the pressures of seeing the social media lifestyle that others have. They (millennials) feel the pressures to fit into the online “norm” and seeing these influencers multiple times a day can affect some people. From using the foundation they see these influencers use, to wearing the same clothes that they wear, and having this come-what-may, social media propaganda posts we receive everyday has its impacts. The pressures that millennials witness from seeing these famed fitness models, both male and female, have repercussions. It’s predicted that the rate of body dysmorphia affects 1 in 50 of the UK population alone, and is believed to be rising as a consequence of the heightened pressures to fit in from social media, movies, TV shows, celebrities and a seemingly endless amount of other pressures. Seeing these influencers being the new “norm” everyday may push some millennials to want to achieve this, and shame or push them into never seeing themselves as “quite good enough” or in “good enough shape” as mentioned previously. Does this directly correlate to the amount of time millennials spend on social media platforms where they ingest these images and posts? I believe it definitely has an adverse effect on people.

What is its “cost” to millennials?

We need to look at what the definition of “cost” is in this context. “Cost”, in terms of this article, is the direct effect these pressures have on people. “Cost” to said millennials is: time, mental health, monetary value, and self worth. 86.2% of millennials have or own a smartphone, with the instant platform to these social pages being the gateway to all of these pressures.

The cost can be measured against how much it changes their decision making. Does it sway their thinking on choices of brands and how much they spend on items they see these influencers using? Is the cost of maintaining a life where they are proud enough to post photos of their life online and worrying if they will get enough likes to be seen as “popular” or “cool”, worth the mental cost of maintaining a life online, and a life through a little black screen?