My wife and I moved into our new place a year ago and ever since then, we spend nearly every weekend buying something for the house. At first it made sense to buy new furniture and give some of the bedrooms a fresh coat of paint. But now it seems like she spends all week looking at home decorating sites, watching home reno shows, noticing what our friends have, and checking out Pinterest, to come up with ideas for what we need to do next. And her tastes have gotten more expensive, which is starting to worry me. I already know that this weekend I’ll be shopping for new bathroom faucets with her. Nothing in our house is more than about 18 months old. We’re both proud of the work we’ve put into it, but how can I convince her to be happy with what we have? ~Neil
Owning a home and spending time and money making it look the way we want is an investment many of us enjoy making. For some, however, the lure of something newer, nicer or better is irresistible. The rise of social media has brought this allure to dizzying new heights, even influencing us to buy and spend more than we can reasonably afford.
Whether we like it or not, what we see on social media has a significant impact on the way we live our lives – what we buy, how much we spend, where we go on vacation, who we spend time with, our recreation and entertainment, activities for the kids, how we react to current events — all of it. Seeing our friends’ highlights reels on Instagram makes us wonder if what we have and do is good enough; is our life ’Gram-worthy?
We are our own worst critic, and when continually comparing ourselves to others it can be easy to feel dissatisfied with what we have, or that we don’t measure up. This is obviously an uncomfortable feeling and one that we want to remedy, which is where the difficulties begin, especially if we have access to credit.
Social media stirs up negative emotions
On the whole, social media doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves, which affects our spending choices. It gives us an unrealistic glimpse into the lives of influencers and celebrities, and lifestyles we just can’t compete with. Friends share the best parts of their lives which, when all strung together in our feeds, creates a fictional narrative we all too eagerly consume. We chase “likes” and upvotes and collect friends and followers as if they are points we need to score. However, we always fall short because there is always something or someone better than us.
Pursuing the life we think we need to live can lead to depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness, discontent and even isolation. To alleviate the negative feelings, we may end up spending beyond our means, chasing an idealized life we have no hope of attaining or affording.
Social channels make impulsive buying convenient
Making it easy and convenient to shop is another way social media contributes to our use of credit cards. Baked right into each social channel is the newest kind of targeted marketing consumers are being subjected to. It is advertising, often in the form of promoted posts, that looks like a friend’s post and it makes shopping with one or two clicks easier than ever.
As social media companies, and even Amazon and the loyalty cards you have saved through apps on your phone, collect unprecedented amounts of demographic information about you and your habits, the data allows them to target the ads even more specifically. Then to top it off, you no longer need to go home and think about what you want to buy, do your research online and go back to buy it if you still want it. Most of us have our most powerful computer always close at hand. Our smartphone is all we need and our fingers instantly do the shopping for us no matter where we are.
Keeping up with all the Joneses everywhere
When we see what others are buying, this subtly motivates us to do the same. What our friends or neighbours share about their purchases promotes a tendency within us to compare ourselves to them, and the thoughts that we should do the same — to fit in, to keep up or to get ahead — aren’t far behind. It can be hard to be happy for a friend’s new car, enjoy a colleague’s exotic honeymoon pictures, or appreciate a sibling’s purchases without a twinge of jealousy. And in the heat of the moment, we don’t always remember that just because someone shares what they bought or did and what works for them, that doesn’t mean we need to buy it right now, or ever. It may not be right for us — and that’s just fine.
There was a time when keeping up with the Joneses was cheaper and almost affordable. That changed with the proliferation of social sharing. Now it’s not just the Joneses in our neighbourhood we want to keep up with, it’s all of the Joneses in every neighbourhood anywhere. Stopping ourselves from becoming overly envious and going on a spending spree takes a lot of self-control; some days we’re up to the challenge, and other days, that’s when we may resort to retail therapy at the expense of our long-term well-being.
Friending to spending, each platform’s influence on your wallet is different
How you use different social media platforms affects your spending, but not only in the ways you may expect. It boils down to how they make you feel, because feeling terrific means spending to keep that feeling, and feeling down means spending to shake that feeling.
If you use Twitter or Reddit to catch up on current events or newsworthy items, you may be neither overly happy nor overly down. Using Facebook to chat with friends or to reach out to a company for customer service, or Instagram to see what others are up to, can make you feel pretty good about yourself which, in turn, can spur spending. The underlying mindset with Pinterest is feeling positive, even planning more projects than you can reasonably take on, and the reality is that gathering supplies is motivation to spend.
Think about your go-to platforms for information, connection and shopping to determine how they make you feel and influence your spending; your credit card balance depends on it.
What can you do to fend off the influences of social media on your spending?
If you’re worried about how much social media is causing you to spend, you might be tempted to give it up. However, giving up social media is pretty drastic and can cause you to miss out on the good parts too. Rather than give it up entirely, start by evaluating your habits — kind of like
tracking your spending
, track your social media use to identify your habits.
At the same time, take a look at your budget and goals. Determine if, with your current spending habits, debts, obligations and savings, you are on track to meet your goals. If you’re not, set some concrete goals so that you know what to do with your money when temptation strikes, and work towards creating a realistic budget.
Remove all credit card and bank account information from PayPal, Amazon and all other websites, apps, merchants and platforms so that you can’t use one-click ordering. Make it as cumbersome as possible for yourself to buy online to reduce how often you do it.
Unsubscribe from email marketing campaigns that you really don’t want to see and filter the few subscriptions for your favourite stores into a separate folder. Only look at the emails when you’re shopping for something you need.
You may want to aim to decrease how much time you spend on social media, or on certain platforms. Rather than peeking at your feed for a few minutes as often as you can, plan 15-minute blocks a few times a day into your schedule for social media. Unfollow anyone who isn’t in line with your goals or who isn’t enriching your life in any way. Log out of accounts on your phone if you have to, logging in only during set times. Focus on living in the moment and appreciating real life as it happens.
The bottom line on how social media influences our spending
It’s easy to blame social media for our spending habits or credit card balance. However, making purchases because we want to keep up, show off or get ahead has been around much longer than the first social accounts we could open. There are many ways social media can enrich our lives. It helps us keep in touch with friends, see photos of family abroad, educate ourselves, build communities around specific interests, disseminate vital information and even provide entertainment. But as Dave Ramsey once said, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Social media has its place, and it is up to us to keep it in a place that works for us.
Bell Media radio stations back on the air in Fredericton after tower collapses – CTV News
Radio stations owned by Bell Media were are off the air in Fredericton Friday morning.
The tower is located on Rookwood Avenue, between the Capital Winter Club and Bell Media radio headquarters. It fell behind the club’s building just before 9 a.m.
No one was injured. There doesn’t appear to be any damage to the building.
The area is secured and taped off.
The cause of the collapse is unknown, but high winds are believed to have been a factor.
Bell Media radio stations Capital FM 106.9, The Fox 105.3 and Pure Country 103.5 were off the air on the radio dial for several hours. They are now back on the air.
Bell Media also owns CTV.
Saskatoon internal medicine and ICU specialist takes to social media to dispel COVID-19 myths – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
And the last reason was I started to see a lot of messages on WhatsApp and Facebook where people are just spreading complete nonsense, spreading things that were not entirely accurate and, not only not accurate, but very damaging and potentially dangerous. So I thought (these videos) would be a good venue for someone local, who has credentials and background that people can trust and understand, to share information. And people’s response has been encouraging and now it has become a regular part of my week.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about COVID-19 that you’re seeing?
A: There’s a very, very small group that still believes that this is not a big deal or this is a hoax. And admittedly, the number of those people is very, very small and not very significant. And I think the majority of the public dismisses them very quickly and I don’t think their influence is quite major.
News media industry's troubles intensify during COVID-19 pandemic – iPolitics.ca
Publishers and media experts are urging the federal government to offer enhanced financial supports for Canada’s news media sector, where a long-standing trend of declining revenue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault last week announced measures to help shore up the media sector during the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown, including putting in place some $595 million in long-promised tax measures and vowing to invest money from the government’s $33-million national pandemic awareness campaign in Canadian media outlets.
Industry representatives, however, say the tax supports are simply rehashed policy announcements from 2018, and that access to meaningful funding is desperately needed to help the sector move to a sustainable business model.
“The industry is really going to run out of cash very soon,” said John Hinds, CEO of newspaper advocacy group News Media Canada.
As part of the government’s COVID-19 media support plan, Guilbeault also announced a simplified funding process for beneficiaries of the Canada Periodical Fund so eligible weekly newspapers will get their money in a matter of weeks, not months.
The Department of Canadian Heritage said about $16 million of the $75 million Canada Periodical Fund goes to to non-daily newspapers, while the remaining nearly $55 million goes to the magazine sector.
Hinds — whose News Media Canada members receive about $10 million of the $16 million allotted to non-daily newspapers — said Guilbeault’s announcement means his members will receive the same funding they got last year, shortening the waiting period. He said the measure is a short-term solution that will address the urgent need to get money to publishers, many of whom do not have a financial reserve to weather events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bob Cox, publisher for the Winnipeg Free Press, which is not eligible for funding under the Periodical Fund as a daily newspaper, said he was “stunned” the government didn’t offer any new support for his industry. He said there’s more benefit in the federal emergency wage subsidy than in the government’s announcement for the media sector.
The emergency subsidy supports businesses that have seen a 30 per cent drop in revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic through a wage subsidy of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 of annual salary of workers, which equals to up to $847 a week. The program will offer support for up to three months, backdated to March 15.
Cox said the emergency fund should be enough to keep journalists working and the publications afloat during the pandemic, but warned the sector has long-term problems that must be addressed.
Shawn McCarthy, president of the Canadian Committee of World Press Freedom, said the industry’s problem is two-pronged: advertising revenue is moving to social media and consumers are unwilling to pay for a product they’ve long accessed for free. He said many outlets began introducing paywalls or subscriptions for online content around eight years ago, but readers responded by turning to news aggregators or social media for free content.
A report from Statista found that advertising revenue for the newspaper industry stood at $3.43 billion in 2003 but more than halved to $1.63 billion by 2018.
McCarthy, the former Globe and Mail parliamentary bureau chief, said the CBC, Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster, became a huge competitor for TV, radio, and eventually print publications when it started producing online content.
“How do you persuade people to buy expensive subscriptions to the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail when they can go and get the content for free on CBC,” he said. “[It’s] a huge challenge for the papers.”
While the industry tries to reinvent its business model into something sustainable, McCarthy said an economic downturn similar to the 2008-2009 financial crisis would level a major blow to outlets barely keeping their heads above water when the economy is stable. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead to the loss of many journalism jobs and local publications, he said, as efforts to blunt the spread of the virus push the global economy into a recession.
Early last week, before the federal emergency fund was announced, La Presse reported that the National Cooperative of Independent Information, the cooperative that brings together six daily papers in Quebec, would temporarily lay-off 143 people because of the COVID-19 pandemic — almost half the number of people employed by the papers collectively. The cooperative attributed the lay-offs to a “brutal and unprecedented drop in advertising revenue.”
La Presse also announced a temporary 10 per cent reduction in salaries for union members, managers and senior executives.
On Friday, Cox sent a memo to Winnipeg Free Press staff proposing a 12 to 20 per cent pay cut for employees to address ad revenue losses resulting from COVID-19. Unionized staff with vote on the proposal with Unifor, Canada’s largest media union, while Cox himself will take a 50 per cent pay cut.
A spokesperson from Guilbeault’s office said the minister has been speaking to various media organizations about declining advertising revenues and other issues.
“We are currently studying all the options in this regard and are working on more measures to support the industry,” Guilbeault’s press secretary Camille Gagné-Raynauld said in an emailed statement.
Chris Waddell, a journalism professor at Carleton University, said the problem is that most Canadians simply won’t pay for online news, reverting instead to social media where they view it for free. He said many readers don’t make a distinction between quality and quantity news reporting.
“The challenge that newspapers face is their audience is declining, but they’re afraid to offend their existing audience by saying ‘we’re not printing anymore’ because they have no guarantees they can replace existing print audience with a digital audience that’s prepared to pay,” he said.
Waddell’s theory is supported by a 2019 study from on digital news led by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, which found that only 9 per cent of Canadians are willing to pay for online news.
Despite consumers unwillingness to paying for news content, Cox said the new reality is an industry transitioning from a reliance on advertising to a subscription-based model. He said interim measures, like the federal government’s targeted tax credits, could help papers adjust and move online but they’re taking too long to implement.
“We don’t have that time…we’re closing down papers literally every week,” Cox said, adding that it took the government over a year to create an advisory board which is partly responsible for administering tax credit.
The advisory board, promised in Dec. 2019, will “make recommendations” to the Canadian Revenue Agency on whether a journalism organization meets certain criteria to receive the Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization (QCJO) designation, the CRA said in an email to iPolitics. Only QCJOs will be eligible for the tax credits.
While organizations await confirmation on eligibility, Cox said a wage subsidy for journalists, one of the three incentives rolled out in the 2018 aid package, has yet to pay a dollar to anyone because the legislation is fraught with complications that make it “unworkable.”
The credit, known officially as the Journalism Labour Tax Credit, allows QCJOs to apply for a 25 per cent refundable tax credit on salaries or wages of eligible newsroom employees for periods beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019. The credit is subject to a cap of $55,000, for a maximum tax credit of $13,750 per employee, and is only applicable for written news content.
Cox said his corporation can’t receive funding from the media bailout because it’s a partnership — a business operation between two or more individuals who share management and profits — and it has no way of receiving the tax credit as partnerships don’t file tax returns.
“The government is looking at it from a corporate basis and not on a publication basis…now they feel they can’t pay anything out,” he said. “I think [the subsidy] would be a great benefit to us if we could get the money, but we haven’t been able to get the money.”
Minister Guilbeault’s office said they are monitoring the program and its results closely.
However, Waddell said there’s no way to determine whether the wage subsidy is working because the government didn’t include an objective for the measure in the support package.
“From a policy point of view, if you’re going to subsidize something you need to have an objective and reason for subsidizing it,” he said. “And frankly, there’s no indication that subsidizing somebody for a while is going to change the circumstances so they’re going to get better off.”
Another new measure from the federal government, which came into effect Jan. 1, 2020, allows not-for-profit news organizations to apply for charitable status, meaning they can receive donations and issue tax receipts to donors.
Waddell said this program may work for some companies, but said it’s a costly transition from a corporation to a non-profit and there are many rules they must to meet the CRA’s guidelines, including establishing a board of directors and keeping detailed financial records.
“It’s not that easy to do,” he said. “It is expensive.”
The former longtime CBC and Globe and Mail journalist also said, unlike the United States, Canada doesn’t have a history of philanthropic efforts to support journalism. Waddell said donations to Canadian media companies tend to amount to people donating to specific projects, like sending a reporter to a remote region, rather than to cover operating costs.
“It’s much harder to find people who will donate just to keep the lights on,” he said.
The last tax credit encourages Canadians to pay for online news through a 15 per cent non-refundable personal income tax credit for digital news subscription costs paid by an individual to a QCJO, which applies to qualifying amounts paid after 2019 and before 2025.
Waddell said the program “may have some limited benefit” but noted that it could have an effect similar to the former Conservative government’s Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. The program was criticized for benefitting those who already have the capacity to pay for a child’s fitness program, rather than helping others meet the financial bar.
While publications struggle to have consumers pay for content, McCarthy said the industry must be cautious in how it accepts government money as it struggles to retain public trust. He added that the price of government intervention might be a hit on the industry’s credibility, but that credibility won’t be an issue if the industry isn’t around anymore.
McCarthy also said the COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity for Canadians to reassess the importance of Canadians news organizations. He noted that many publications, including legacy papers like the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, have lowered paywalls amid the crisis so Canadians can access reliable news.
“I think there’s a hope that people will recognize coming through this crisis just how important is it to have solid information that has been vetted by journalists and editors, as opposed to relying on hearsay on social media,” McCarthy said. “Whether that translates into individuals being willing to pay for it is another story.”
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