Valentine’s Day marks the annual celebration of love that we spread to our partners, family members and friends. It is a day to admire and cherish our loved ones by sending gifts, love letters and heart-shaped candies. Throughout the rest of the year, our attention seems to be diverted to those who are not close to us. Often times, young people direct their attention to celebrities and other public figures that are not capable of returning the same kind of love and affection.
The proliferation of social media has made it possible for people to stay in contact with friends and family members across vast distances through instant messaging or “likes” on shared pictures and posts. However, a recent study by Statistica revealed that 72 percent of internet users between the ages of 16 and 24 use social media networks to follow celebrities. Now that celebrities and other public figures can use various forms of social media such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, their fans can spend more time looking at their stories, scrolling through their pictures or sharing their tweets. This gives fans the opportunity to interact with their favorite celebrities, who they view as superior because of their talent, wealth or persona.
If we were to think critically about the money and time we devote to celebrities compared to people that are close to us, it would seem that are loved ones are at a deficit. The Metro News reported that Kanye West fans spend roughly 2,025 dollars on average for merchandise, concert-going, and attending his other appearances. Even the products that celebrities are paid to endorse have fans reaching into their wallets for extra cash. The Guided Selling Organization explains the psychological effects of celebrity branding and why it is so successful. In the article they stated, “Subconsciously, people believe that purchasing a product that’s promoted by a celebrity they admire will allow them to emulate the celebrity’s desired traits or attract similar people into their lives. They will associate the celebrities’ success, beauty, athletic skill etc. with a particular product.”
Likewise, millennials spend a significant proportion of their money on celebrity brand products, such as Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics or Lauryn Hill’s fashion line. The Financial Post published an article earlier this year boasting about the boom in the cosmetic industry due to millennials’ lust for celebrity brand makeup. In the article they state, “Kylie Cosmetics, the online retailer where 20-year-old Kylie Jenner sells $27 lip kits and $42 ‘kyshadow’ palettes, racked up more than $420 million in sales in just 18 months.”
That being said, everyone is entitled to a little self-indulgence. It is understandable that younger people are more apt to spend money on themselves, since they do not have to provide for anyone. However, recent studies show that millennials have irresponsible spending habits compared to earlier generations. A finance research company, LendEDU, conducted a survey amongst 1000 college students and graduate students to study their financial habits. It revealed that on average millennials spend 49 dollars a month on concerts and sporting events, 82 dollars a month on clothing, and 75 dollars a month on alcohol. Coincidentally, these products and events that take up most of our income are commonly endorsed by celebrities.
As Keene State College students start to approach their adult years, they should consider how their time and money are being spent. This Valentine’s Day, show your love and appreciation to the people who care for you — the people who pay your tuition, help you through late night study sessions or share breakfast with you in the Dining Commons.
Katie Jensen can be contacted at