If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts you’ll know that I’ve mentioned FOMO (fear of missing out) several times.
But what is FOMO?
FOMO is defined as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
So in a nutshell, it’s that little twinge of jealousy you feel when you see photos of a friend at an awesome looking party, or a family member at the beach, or someone with a cute puppy. And it’s something which if you don’t recognize being a problem, it will consume you.
I don’t make that statement lightly. After doing some pretty extensive googling the facts are a little bit scary. Increased rates of anxiety, depression and body image issues all stem from the dreaded FOMO.
If you are on any social media network I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, even if you’ve never heard of FOMO before. Like “keeping up with the jones’s” it pushes us to want more, to have better things so that we can take pretty pictures and post them for likes. It also makes us want to go to all of the parties and events for fear that we would miss something amazing and life changing.
But just because you use social media doesn’t mean you have to be a victim to FOMO. Here’s a few things you need to remember every time you feel that twinge. Recognizing and understanding is half way to overcoming.
Social media doesn’t represent real life.
This is the crux of the issue. Whatever someone posts to any social media network is the glossy, perfectly lit, perfectly posed version of their life. They are the best bits, with all the negative and less than glamorous parts edited out.
Photos of people laying on golden beaches with perfectly blue skies are aplenty on Facebook. But do you ever see the images of someone peeling their sunburned skin off their dry bits? No, you don’t.
Real life is both beautiful and disgusting. But obviously only the beautiful things are going to get likes and shares and follows. So obviously we’re only going to show the best bits!
It’s important to remember this every time you get that pang of FOMO, or even if you don’t. What I like doing is thinking about what happens two seconds after the photo has been taken, normally that the person posting it has gotten bored and started picking their nose or something equally gross.
No two people enjoy the same things.
I’m the kind of person who would much rather stay in on a Friday night, watch a film with my partner and cuddle our dog. But I know that isn’t for everyone. Much like some people enjoy going out drinking with friends.
And do you know how much flack I get for not being someone who enjoys going out and drinking the night away? The answer is a lot. I’m constantly being told that I’m not living, that I’m acting too old for my age, blah blah blah.
But I digress. Just because you have friends that are posting constant pictures of being out, drinking and partying, doesn’t mean you have to. There is a pressure put on us twenty-somethings to be a little bit wild and carefree, but you don’t have to if it isn’t something you enjoy.
And if it is something you enjoy, then remember not all parties are the same. The photos posted can be misleading at best, everyone could be sat on their phones only looking up to grab another drink. I’ve been to a few parties like this. The photos looked amazing, but sadly the party itself wasn’t.
Comparing yourself to someone else is dangerous.
When someone posts a beautiful selfie on Instagram do you start looking at yourself differently? Do you ask why you can’t look that good? If you do, then stop doing that. The human face is a wonderful thing, and it comes in all sorts of exciting and varying forms.
With the perfect angle and the right filters everyone has the potential to look like a supermodel. But like I’ve said before, it isn’t real life. That person probably doesn’t look like that all the time. And you shouldn’t expect yourself to either.
Comparing yourself to another person is like comparing a rose to a lily. Both are completely different colours, shapes and sizes, but both are equally as perfect and as beautiful. You, yes you lovely reader, are perfect and beautiful.
You know why don’t you? Because you look the exact way you are supposed to. Your ancestors’ genes have all compiled together into this wonderful concoction that is your face, and your body shape, and your hair colour, and every little bit about you.
And do you know what you achieve through comparing yourself to somebody else? Absolutely nothing, apart from feeling a bit worse about yourself. You don’t have to do that to yourself so please stop.
On a side note, this is all being written by someone who was recently told that I’d be a great beauty if I lost some weight. I’m not conventionally beautiful. I am in no way slim. But this is the body and face I’ve got so I’m going to make the most of it!
Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
It really is a simple fix if you find yourself struggling with FOMO: delete all of the apps, and don’t go on social media for a while. Pick a time scale and stick to it. It could be a day, a week, a month. However long it takes to stop you compulsively checking and comparing.
I found a few years back I’d be impulsively checking my Facebook, and feeling a bit down in the dumps because my life wasn’t as interesting as other people’s. So I took myself off Facebook for 3 days. Its all it took to reset my focus.
I’d suggest to anyone to delete the apps from their phones and tablets, or to at least hide them (I make sure my social media apps aren’t on my home screen) and that way you’re putting yourself out of harm’s way.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may be interested to read one of my other posts Why you need a no screen night. For some inspiration on how to break away, also check out 10 things to do on a no screen night.