Media Madness, Materialism & Mental Health

Recently, I read that Princess Mary of Denmark wore a dress of hers for the fourth ‘umpteenth’ time! I said ‘umpteenth’ because I didn’t realize that four times was a lot and people were even counting the number of times she wore her own dress from her own wardrobe. Besides, she had only won the dress four times in four years! That’s an average of once per year. Yet it bugged someone so much to notice and write about it.

While many celebrated her for being modest and ‘commended’ her for repeating her clothes and saving taxpayers some money in the process, others berated the writer for even bringing it up and I wondered what the world was turning into if it was expected that a celebrity couldn’t even have the joy of repeating a dress they liked without being embarrassed about it. This is how social media puts people under pressure because they need to keep up with the joneses’. Increases in anxiety, depression loneliness have been linked to the pressures of what people get exposed to on social media and how they compare their lives with those on the mobile screen and feel that they do not measure up.

Instagram has been fingered as the worst social media app because it is image driven and many people after going through the avalanche of images displaying the lives of other people become depressed.  The depression stems from the fact that they feel that their lives are not as interesting as those on the screen. The need to fill this void with material thing comes up and materialism may set in. Unfortunately, materialism does not fill the void created by the lack fueled by social media.

A research found that ‘the more highly people endorsed materialistic values, the more they experienced unpleasant emotions, depression and anxiety, the more they reported physical health problems, such as stomachaches and headaches, and the less they experienced pleasant emotions and felt satisfied with their lives.’ These victims of materialism fall into a vicious cycle.

In the song, ‘Audio Money’ the artiste berates people for displaying their fake lives on Instagram and driving people to aspire to illusions of wealth. The song’s refrain, ‘Why you wan kee yasef?’can be interpreted to mean ‘why do you want to kill (hurt) yourself) in a bid to keep with the joneses’. The song is an unfortunate situation that is plaguing thousands of people in Nigeria who follow celebrities that show off what they think are the representations of wealth; designer clothing, expensive automobiles and jewelry, exotic vacations etc. Many people who lack internal strength fall for these gimmicks and ultimately engage in acts that are deleterious to their spiritual, mental and physical health.

Today, as people, let’s begin to talk to ourselves and get our value systems in check. Materialism should not be allowed to creep into our lives. It is dangerous and has spiritual, physical, financial and social implications. Even the bible says that godliness with contentment is great gain. The losses flowing from materialism are not even worth the fleeting ‘’gains’ it provides. As the year takes off, may we begin to live contentedly, shun all kinds of materialism and avoid giving validation to those who project materialistic tendencies.

Happy New Year!

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