FOMO: Why Social Media Makes You Feel Like A Loser
I have always had FOMO, but thankfully social media hadn't exploded when I was in high school. You see, I had a "friend" who constantly arranged fun outings within our group of friends and conveniently left me out each time. In random conversations, they would drop the fact that they all went to the mall together, carelessly tagging on, "Oh, so sorry, it was last minute!" when they noticed the crestfallen look upon my face. Thankfully, I didn't have social media to rub it in my face in real time back then when I was a lot less secure in who I was.
Fast forward...umm....a lot of years and I still get a twinge of FOMO when I see all the fabulous things my friends/acquaintances are doing on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter.
Post I recently saw: Out for amazing cocktails on a rooftop deck!!! (me- I am sitting at home on the couch in yoga pants, catching up on The Mindy Project after unsuccessfully struggling with my toddler to take a bath, knowing I will be in lala land long before my friends even consider their last cocktail).
My, how life has changed.
But you know what? I have learned, when reflecting upon my own posted images, that everything is an illusion, and also to count my blessings.
Here are some examples; if you had even an inkling of FOMO when I posted pics of moments in my life, I am giving you a behind-the-scenes tour.
You might have seen me post a pic of myself at the Time Out Chicago Eat Out Awards. Yeah, I had a good time, I was smiling in the photo, and I managed to put on a dress and brush my hair. Here's what you didn't know:
It took me over an hour and a half to get downtown in traffic.
It was pouring rain and I almost slipped and took a dive.
I went ALONE. Yes, alone. I asked a few friends to come with me but I got a last minute invite and no one could make it.
I was the OLDEST person in the room, with the exception of a prematurely grey silver fox cruising the crowd.
In spite of all this, I had a good time, met some new friends, and got to sample some great eats by up and coming restaurants. I feel lucky that I get to have interesting experiences, even if they don't always turn out how the pictures portray.
Rewind to last week. I posted a photo of my son and I at the beach. We look happy, smiling, tan, the picture of a blissful mother and son duo- ready to tackle the sun and sand.
Here's what you didn't see:
That was the one smile of my son's during a two hour melt down that resulted from too much action and not enough naps.
Now, I love my son whether he is screaming bloody murder or quietly whispering "I love you" before he nods off to sleep (although, I prefer the latter of course). I posted this photo to remind myself that yes, this too shall pass.
Now for the moral of the story.
If you find yourself suffering from a severe case of chronic FOMO, figure out how to dig yourself out of the hole you created.
- Change. If you truly feel that everyone else's life is more interesting than yours, well...plan something interesting to do!
- Retreat. Shut the computer, smart phone, iPad, etc... off. Step away from the electronic device. Go live in the real world.
- Post. Heck, post some of your own photos. If you can't beat 'em, join em! Post images that represent truly happy moments in your life that you are happy to share with your friends and family.
- Reconnect. Do you feel a little disconnected? Left out? If you want to join in the fun, just ask. Give that old college friend a call (haha, ok, a DM or at very most e-mail, right?). Make some memories of your own.
- Perspective. Do you really think people's lives are a montage of perfect moments? Are family Christmases a veritable Norman Rockwell painting? Wow, what stories I could tell you, but that is a tale for another time.