Whether consciously or unconsciously, social media causes us to constantly compare ourselves with others. But when it comes to materialism in particular, social media can cause stress and make us unhappy.
Whether it’s clothes, parties or travel: Social media ensures that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. But this is anything but good for us – according to a study by Ruhr University Bochum. According to the study, social media can lead to a lower quality of life, especially for people with a materialistic disposition.
Social media: why materialism stresses you out and makes you unhappy
For people who indulge in materialism, social media offers an ideal opportunity to compare themselves with others. According to the study, however, this makes them more susceptible to passive and addictive user behavior. This in turn would trigger stress and make them unhappy.
The Bochum-based researchers led by psychologist Phillip Ozimek even speak of a “downward spiral”. The background to the findings is an online survey with 1,230 participants.
The only requirement was that the respondents had to use at least one social media platform at least once a week. On average, they stated that they spend just over two hours a day on social media.
Social networks “breed” materialists
The researchers used six different questionnaires to determine the extent to which the respondents had a materialistic attitude and tended to compare themselves with others. In addition: whether they used social media actively or passively at the time of the survey, whether they exhibited addictive behavior and how stressed and satisfied they were with their lives.
Based on the data, the researchers were able to prove “that a stronger materialistic orientation goes hand in hand with a tendency to compare oneself with others”. This is very easy in social media – primarily through passive use. In concrete terms, this means simply consuming content from other users.
According to the study, there is even evidence of addictive behavior. Psychologist Phillip Ozimek explained: “By this we mean, for example, that those affected constantly think about the channels and fear missing out on something if they are not online”. This in turn leads to stress and poor mental health.
It is also particularly worrying that social media can trigger and increase materialism – for example through (influencer) marketing. At the same time, the platforms attract materialists anyway, as they can satisfy their needs there. Phillip Ozimek therefore advises: “It’s definitely a good idea to become aware of how much time you spend on social media and to reduce it”.