Instagram is changing the way we perceive (and spend) money

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By Julia Rowley

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.


In the age of social media popularity, Instagram influencers and their opulent lives are in the process of creating a materialistic youth culture.



As the generation most active on social media, we can all relate to waking up in the morning, instantly rolling out of bed and checking our cell phones for the latest updates. Chances are, we’re receiving these updates from Instagram – as of 2018, it’s the second most popular social media platform for young adults.


Statistics indicate that the average person spends 54 minutes on Instagram every day. During our endless scrolling, we often come across posts from influencers. Our feeds are filled with their luxury clothes, expensive makeup, beautiful bodies and international trips – think Jake Paul, Alexis Ren and Kylie Jenner. However, what we don’t realise is the effect that this is having on youth culture.



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SETTING POWDERS by @kyliecosmetics launching March 7th💗

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on


We see these influencers living lives of luxury and begin to internalize the subliminal messages that their posts are sending. The influencers look successful and satisfied with their lives – and because of this, we begin to believe that these luxuries are equated with happiness and success. Since they are close to our age, we are able to relate to them and this further enhances the concept that we should be buying the trend items that they are promoting. Our generation is being conditioned to follow a materialistic, superficial lifestyle instead of an authentic one.


Despite this, there is no need to feel overly pessimistic about the future of our generation just yet. Accounts promoting positivity and authenticity can be found all over Instagram, and there is an increasing call for influencers to share more of their ‘real’ lives – not just tales of success and happiness based on their wealth and status. If we choose to follow these sort of accounts instead of influencers (with a few exceptions of course – no one wants to miss out on that Kardashian-Jordan drama!), then we can be responsible for creating a more authentic, genuine generation.


This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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