As a society, we all face a common problem – social pressure. It can take different forms, yet the meaning stays the same. We humans instinctively want to be part of a group and it is hardwired in to us to follow others around us, in order to give us the best chance of survival. We often decide which items to buy just to fit in to a particular group; racking up huge bills for families, devastating friendships and leading to sadness and depression.

Have you ever noticed how much your spending habitats are influenced by the people you choose to surround yourself with? For example, studies show children who grow up in a household where designer clothes are purchased frequently are likely later on in life to continue those spending habits, while one person among a group of friends is very likely to try drugs or cigarettes just because his peers choose to do the same. This process is called social pressure, defined as the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values or behaviours to conform to those of the influencing group or individual.

Social pressure has existed for as long as people have, from inside the caves to nowadays, yet as a society we have never seen the effects of social pressure being so detrimental; ruining lives, causing havoc and creating grief for families up and down the country. Countless people, especially teenagers, find themselves buying clothes and spending lots of money, all leading to the downfall and worsening of their lives and their loved ones. Furthermore, these early habitats often lead to worse and exaggerated effects later on in life, such as drug abuse, gambling and smoking, often due to the habits of their so called ‘friends’ around them.

As human beings, we are all victims of increased targeting by huge corporations and massive brands. For decades, countless companies have exposed us to adverts upon adverts, persuading us to buy from them, driving up sales and profit margins at our expense. You see, digital marketing experts estimate American’s living in a city see 4,000 to 5,000 adverts per day, and that is only going to increase. This substantial level at which our brain is forced to read and interpret adverts is having a profound effect on people’s lives; influencing their decisions, manipulating their ideas, and alarmingly, creating a need to buy, buy, buy.

Currently, the words on everyone’s lips are mental health, due to a growing awareness regarding it and more funding being allocated in order to fund it. However, social pressure has been proven to worsen and deteriorate mental health, leading to more depression amongst teenagers and early adults, causing more people to become suicidal and unhappy at life at a time when so many positive things are just around the corner. If only social pressure could be solved, it would leave millions of young people with a different state of mind, allowing them to lead happy, fulfilled lives absent of the need for the latest iPhone or a designer handbag. This would give families the ability to save more money, avoid negative influences and become happier, yet if nothing changes, the problem of social pressure will still exist for ever; robbing people of the chance to live an independent life.