Materialism on social media fuels stress and reduces happiness

In the digital world of endless comparisons, a thought-provoking study by a team at Ruhr University Bochum reveals a startling truth: materialism on social media fuels stress and reduces happiness. This research, conducted through an online survey of more than 1,200 participants, highlights the unique way social media reinforces materialistic attitudes and their subsequent impact on mental health.

The study, led by Dr. Philip Ozimek, defined materialism as the importance people place on worldly possessions. On social media, this often manifests itself through posts showing off expensive items, luxury vacations, or a seemingly perfect lifestyle. Facebook and Instagram have become breeding grounds for ostentatiousness. As consumers constantly compare their lives to others and show off clothes, cars, and luxurious lifestyles, they fall into the trap of materialistic desires. This constant comparison, especially through passive use, turns into a relentless pursuit of more, fueling a cycle of dissatisfaction, the Study Finds reported.

The study, conducted with a diverse group of participants, analyzed people's social media behavior and psychological state by focusing on their material posts. The study used six questionnaires to understand participants' materialistic attitudes, social media habits, stress levels, and life satisfaction. Participants who spent an average of more than two hours per day on social media revealed a clear pattern: higher levels of social media materialism were associated with lower life satisfaction, increased stress symptoms, and a higher risk of addiction to social media. This suggests that the pursuit of material wealth when displayed on social media, may have a detrimental effect on mental health.

"The data showed that a more pronounced materialistic approach goes hand in hand with a tendency to compare ourselves to others," explained Ozimek.

"By this, we mean, for example, that users are constantly thinking about the relevant channels and fear that they are missing something if they are not online," he said.

The study's implications extend beyond numbers and graphs. It shows a worrying trend where people seeking validation through materialistic displays on social media may be sacrificing their peace of mind and happiness.

Social media addiction is characterized by compulsive use of social media platforms, often at the expense of other activities. Symptoms of stress can range from anxiety to physical symptoms such as headaches or fatigue. What is clear is that social media can do far more harm to users than good.

"Social media is one of the six steps to unhappiness," Ozimek said.

While the study acknowledges the risks associated with social media, especially for materialistic people, Dr. Ozimek advises against giving up these platforms completely. Instead, he suggests careful use and a balanced approach to prevent overcompensation. The researchers also suggest incorporating assessments of materialism and social media use into mental health treatment. Recognizing these factors as potential starting points for interventions offers new avenues for addressing contemporary mental health challenges.

The study by Dr. Ozimek and his team is a call to recognize the hidden impact of materialism in social media. It highlights the need for self-awareness in our digital consumption and a balanced approach to social media use, reminding us that the pursuit of material possessions in the digital realm can have significant consequences for our mental well-being.

"It's good to be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media and reduce it," recommends Ozimek, who advises against giving up social media entirely. "If you do, there is a possibility that you will overcompensate"./BGNES