Is the digital age doing us more harm than good? Let’s investigate…

I was in elementary school when I got my first AOL screen name. Naturally my digital ID was made up of the name of my favorite clothing store followed by my birthday. From the moment my parents gave me access to the world wide web my life immediately changed. While in the beginning I mostly used AOL to communicate with, and subsequently be bullied by, my elementary school peers, I eventually used the internet as a creative outlet. As a kid my first foray into the world of fashion was largely made up of what I saw online. I would go onto websites to print photos to make collages of outfits, trends, and items that I imagined myself wearing as a fancy adult. In fact, my first discovery of the Louis Vuitton Speedy bag was on the, now defunct, luxury fashion website eluxury.com. It launched when I was just 10 years old and I can vividly remember using the website to print images for the many mock editorials I made. Fast forward to today and one could say that the modern day version of this is Instagram, and prior to this it was Tumblr.

I came of age on the cusp of the introduction of social media (Facebook launched when I was in high school, but before that there was MySpace), and it’s crazy to me to think that I barely remember a life without the internet. Though I would like to say that my outfits, purchases and the trends I choose to participate in are solely based on my own thoughts I would be lying. I, like basically everyone living in a westernized society, am influenced in some way or another by digital media, like it or not. In the modern world we are bombarded by what companies tell us to want, like and buy, and it’s almost impossible not to be impacted by what we see on our screens.

Do you ever wonder why you gravitated towards that bag you decided to buy? Or that new skincare product you splurged on? Sometimes I find myself purchasing things only to realize later that I had seen it on social media and I wonder if it sat there in my subconscious and that’s why I gravitated towards it or if I would have wanted it regardless. Forbes reported that 72% of millennials reported buying fashion and beauty products based on Instagram posts, and that’s when they were aware of doing it. The percentage of millennials influenced by social media both knowingly and unknowingly has to be much higher. While companies have been bombarding us with marketing and advertising ploys for as long as mainstream media has existed, the difference is that now it’s nearly impossible not to be influenced.

Even if you think you’re buying something based on a personal recommendation from a friend or family member, in today’s world it’s very possible that they were influenced by social media whether that be Facebook (which has a bit of an older average user) or Instagram. In that case you’ve been indirectly influenced by social media. Sometimes I think about life in the digital age and I fear that we are moving towards a time when we are basically all just carbon copies of one another. Being in the position that I’m in, I give a lot of thought towards the opinions that I give and share, but I’m also extremely hyperaware of the opinions around me. While I don’t exactly mind making a purchase that I’ve seen on social media I am super aware of staying true to myself. Just because something is everywhere and on everyone doesn’t mean that it’ll look good on me or that I have to have it.

Do you feel that social media has changed your shopping habits? How do you sort through the many opinions to stay true to your own tastes and style?

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