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Friday, September 24, 2021

Social media negatively influences back-to-school shopping

I can’t deny that I love a good deal. When most people see a sale they immediately perk up, and probably spend a little more than they should. This, unfortunately, is especially true in retail shopping and many people don’t realize how affected they are by the advertising they see-especially online.

It seems like fashion is worth more than an education. The fashion industry makes over 2.4 trillion dollars and is steadily increasing in value and the internet has exposed people across the globe to different types of artistic expressions and cultures. However, Fast-Fashion seems to be one of the highest-grossing sectors of this industry and one could argue that it has little to no uniqueness or creativity at all-but people still love it. Depending on how you look at things, it seems like fashion is becoming more important in our lives than ever before and we’re doing nothing to stop it.

According to the National Retail Foundation, back-to-school shoppers spend more money on clothes than school supplies. On average, each family spent 236.90 on clothing, compared to a mere 122.13 dollars on notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes. What I found most shocking was the fact that college shoppers spend more money on clothes than they do on food. Unfortunately, it seems like we are being influenced to prioritize luxuries over our needs.

If you feel like you’re addicted to social media, you aren't alone. In 2017, CBS reported that 30% of individuals between the ages of 18-24 feel like they are addicted to social media. Basically, every third person in your class most likely has an addiction to Instagram and I specify said Instagram for a reason. Out of all the social media sites, Instagram seems to be growing more and more popular. Between the years 2014-2017, active users on Instagram have grown over 357%. It has grown exponentially in the past few years, and an alarming amount of people trust Instagram marketing over other advertisements.

People feel connected to influencers. They see pictures of them nearly every day, and want to have the perfect life depicted in their stories. In 2017, an article written in Time magazine named Instagram as the worst social media site for your mental health. We lose ourselves in the need to be like what we see online, and to that end do things that are not beneficial for us, such as buying more and more trendy clothing. Why do we put so much importance on appearance and the maintenance of a false persona?

The answer is simple. It’s easier to be fake than handle our own issues. Most people who use social media for hours at a time are looking to fill a social void that they may not realize they even have. Young adults who spend more than two hours a day on social media are more likely to feel isolated and excluded. How do these individuals get rid of these negative feelings? They drown the feelings by buying the luxuries they see attractive and popular individuals wear and become a part of a false community.

We need to get out of this rut. Although I find it amazing how social media has grown and that individuals across the globe are able to connect with people and make a living spreading their creativity, we are forgetting about important things that are essential for our individual growth. The next time you’re thinking about buying into the newest trend, think about how social media is influencing your desires and consider visiting your local thrift store for your needs instead. 

Zora Viel is a UF journalism sophmore.

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