The Hidden Dangers of Materialism in Social Media: A Wake-Up Call to Unplug

January 30th, 2024

By Lily Anderson

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

In the age of digital connectivity, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, a recent study conducted by researchers, led by Dr. Phillip Ozimek from the Faculty of Psychology at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, sheds light on the darker side of our online interactions. The study, which involved 1,230 participants, aimed to explore the relationship between materialism, social media usage, and its impact on mental well-being.

The Materialistic Strain: A Closer Look at the Findings

The participants, all regular users of social media, were asked to reflect on their online habits through a comprehensive set of questionnaires. The research unveiled a compelling link between materialistic attitudes and the proclivity to compare oneself with others, particularly through passive social media use. Dr. Phillip Ozimek emphasizes, “The data showed that a stronger materialistic approach goes hand in hand with a tendency to compare oneself with others.”

The Domino Effect: From Materialism to Unhappiness

The study uncovered a troubling downward spiral triggered by materialism and exacerbated by social media use. Those with a materialistic mindset were more prone to passive social media engagement, leading to addictive behavior and, ultimately, increased stress levels. The final consequence in this chain reaction was a notable reduction in life satisfaction. Dr. Phillip Ozimek succinctly concludes, “Social media is one of six stepping stones to unhappiness.”

Materialism Magnet: How Social Media Attracts the Materialistic Mindset

The researchers expressed concern over the fact that social media platforms not only amplify materialistic values but also attract individuals predisposed to a materialistic mindset. This is particularly worrisome as social media serves as a breeding ground for materialistic ideals, fueled by (influencer) marketing and the constant pursuit of external validation.

Navigating the Social Media Maze: A Call for Conscious Consumption

In light of these findings, Dr. Phillip Ozimek advises users to be mindful of their social media usage. While he recommends reducing time spent on these platforms, he warns against complete abandonment, as it may lead to overcompensation. The study suggests that individuals undergoing mental health treatment should consider tracking their materialistic tendencies and social media use, offering a potential starting point for additional interventions.

A Wake-Up Call: Taking Control of Our Digital Lives

As we navigate the complex web of social media, it’s crucial to be aware of its potential impact on our mental well-being. The study by Dr. Phillip Ozimek serves as a wake-up call, urging us to reassess our online habits and strive for a healthier balance between the digital and the real world. It’s time to prioritize genuine connections over materialistic comparisons and reclaim control over our happiness in the digital age.

Practical Steps for a Social Media Detox: Reclaiming Your Well-being

Embarking on a social media detox can be a transformative journey towards mental clarity and enhanced well-being. Here are practical steps inspired by the research led by Dr. Phillip Ozimek to guide you through the process:

1. Reflect on Your Social Media Habits

Begin by assessing your current social media usage. Reflect on the time spent, the nature of your interactions, and the emotional impact it has on you. Awareness is the first step towards positive change.

2. Set Clear Intentions and Boundaries

Establish clear intentions for your social media use. Define the purpose behind your online presence and set realistic boundaries. Determine specific times for engagement and commit to avoiding mindless scrolling.

3. Identify and Unfollow Triggers

Identify accounts and content that contribute to materialistic comparisons or trigger negative emotions. Unfollow or mute such accounts to curate a more positive and uplifting online experience.

4. Schedule Social Media-Free Time

Designate specific periods in your day or week for social media-free time. Use this opportunity to engage in offline activities, connect with loved ones, or pursue hobbies that bring joy and fulfillment.


5. Turn Off Notifications

Minimize distractions by turning off non-essential notifications. This step reduces the urge to constantly check your social media accounts, allowing you to focus on the present moment.

6. Embrace Real-Life Connections

Prioritize face-to-face interactions and cultivate meaningful relationships offline. Strengthening your connections in the physical world can significantly enhance your overall well-being.

7. Curate a Positive Feed

Consciously curate your social media feed with content that inspires, educates, and uplifts. Follow accounts that align with your values and contribute positively to your mental health.

8. Utilize Screen Time Tracking Tools

Many smartphones offer screen time tracking features. Utilize these tools to monitor and regulate your device usage. Set daily limits to ensure a healthy balance between online and offline activities.

9. Engage in Mindful Activities

Replace social media scrolling with mindfulness activities. Practice meditation, yoga, or engage in activities that promote relaxation and self-awareness. Redirecting your focus can lead to a more centered and peaceful state of mind.

10. Seek Support and Accountability

Share your intention to detox from social media with friends or family. Having a support system can provide encouragement, and mutual accountability can make the process more enjoyable and achievable.


  1. Phillip Ozimek, Julia Brailovskaia, Hans-Werner Bierhoff, Elke Rohmann. Materialism in social media – more social media addiction and stress symptoms, less satisfaction with lifeTelematics and Informatics Reports, 2024; 100117 DOI: 10.1016/j.teler.2024.100117

About the author:

Lily Anderson is a passionate wordsmith and dedicated explorer of cutting-edge scientific inquiries. Fuelled by a thirst for knowledge, she skilfully transforms intricate ideas into relatable tales, inviting readers to embark on a captivating expedition of revelation. Lily’s efforts play a crucial role in bridging the gap between experts and the wider public, evoking a sense of awe and encouraging insightful discussions about groundbreaking scientific advancements.

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