Many Americans struggle with debt. Social media doesn’t help – By Emily Glaser (VOX) / May 17 2021
Instagram and TikTok are full of things to buy. For some users, it’s a trap.
It’s been six months since the day Erin’s husband stopped talking to her.
She laughs when she mentions the seven days of the silent treatment, a distinctly Midwestern shrug that makes its way along Iowa phone lines. The laugh seems intended to reframe her tribulations and make them feel manageable, but it was the very unmanageability of her social media-fueled compulsive shopping habits, and the debt that they accrued, that led her to turn to her husband for support. Instead, he offered silence.
Erin — who, like the other shoppers I spoke to for this piece, asked to be referred to by a pseudonym to speak openly about her finances — says she is accustomed to carrying some credit card debt, usually on retailer credit cards she opens to take advantage of their sign-up promotions. In the past, she was able to pay off those balances efficiently, but with the synchronous blows dealt by the pandemic — she was laid off, her two kids began homeschooling, her social life evaporated — her household income and personal time dwindled, and her shopping habits escalated.
“I’m home with my kids all day, and I’m looking to escape somehow,” she says. Like many people, Erin turned to social media. And social media — a landscape increasingly strewn with consumerism land mines like targeted ads, sponsored content, and influencer fashion hauls — deposited her directly into online shopping.