BY Nina CERNOS, EEB4, S5FRC.
The other day I got lost on YouTube, as one does, and I ended up coming across a specific genre of videos that piqued my interest: luxury hauls. It’s a simple concept – a person in front of a camera showing off items they recently purchased such as handbags, clothes, gadgets, etc. However, not long after, I stumbled upon “anti-hauls” and videos of people listing luxury items they regret buying. Both types of hauls, although their purpose greatly varying, essentially featured the same items; designer products, that most people watching could never even dream of buying.
This got me thinking about how much we, as a society, normalize luxury… mainly because of the way it’s constantly being shoved in our faces. I think we’re all guilty of spending a lot of time on social media, but we don’t even realize how much showing off we come across on a daily basis. The internet is filled with people with large followings, who relentlessly post about how much they’re consuming, which, subconsciously, makes us want to consume too.
The reason this affects us so much is because people tend to trust “influencers” such as bloggers, Youtubers, and Instagram models more than regular celebrities. This is because most of them built their brand on relatability and how similar they are to us. They act like their followers are their friends, which makes them appealing. However, the more money they make, the less relatable they become, and people, especially their younger and more impressionable audiences tend to want to cling on to that relatability.
If someone sees their favorite influencer wearing a designer item, it’ll probably make them want to buy it; not only to try to keep that connection between them, but also to give an illusion of wealth to others. This comes as a result of “flex culture”, also known as shameless bragging, that social media has created. The concept mainly consists of people constantly showing off and trying to one up each other on social media. Still, you might want to ask yourself, “Is spending copious amounts of money on little things really something to brag about?”
The sad truth is, no matter how accessible influencers make it seem, most of us cannot afford to live the lives we pretend to live. Nevertheless, our desire to make people envy us is insatiable. So here we are again: regardless of the problems this creates (such as increasing debt and decreasing self-esteem) we still keep on doing it.
Considering how young the target audience is, for this type of content, the people producing it should be wary of how they display and advertise their lavish lifestyles.
Nonetheless, the real source of the problem isn’t the influencers; it’s modern day consumerism that manipulates us through ads and sponsorships into constantly spending money on things we don’t need nor want. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to avoid this since most of what we see nowadays is advertising something, blatantly and subliminally. The only way to resist, is firstly: Be responsible when spending and secondly: Not use money as a mean to temporarily fix one’s insecurities!