You say that you’ll go to bed early, only to lie down and “quickly check Facebook” for an hour. You make plans to get up early, but spend the time lying in bed scrolling rather than eating breakfast. You ask a friend who you haven’t seen in a while out to dinner, and can’t help but wonder what everyone else is doing. You lust over expensive shoes knowing you can’t afford them, but fork out anyway because of all the ‘likes’ you’ll get. Disagree all you want, but the truth is that the web-generation/millennials/generation X are hyper-obsessed with the internet’s ability to boost ego and build popularity, and it’s eating us alive. Living precariously through the internet, you check in, Snapchat, Insta-story, and Tweet your life away, but at the end of it all, what’s the point really?
Contrary to popular belief, FOMO has been around long before social media took centerfold in our lives. The internet merely gave it a super catchy slogan that fails to encapsulate a complex psychological issue. My best friend and I have an evening and weekend rule where our phones automatically switch to ‘do not disturb’ once the clock hits 9PM. Our jobs dictate that we spend a lot of our day working on social media so this is a welcome break. I’m generally good with sticking to the rules and enjoy focusing without worrying about whatever is trending on Twitter, but my friend struggles. We had spent the day together shopping and enjoying each others company. And when we got home instead of trying on the new outfit, my friend instinctively and intrinsically placed the new purchases on the bed in a neat and aesthetic arrangement. Why? For social media. To tell their couple of thousand followers about their latest buy; 98% of which are total strangers.
There is a method to the 9PM rule madness: switching away from the world means that it’s easier to sleep, to concentrate, and to relax. Not to mention that it’s especially healthy to focus on the real and the now as opposed to living our lives virtually.
Travel for self-growth, not for Insta
Aside from the horde of luxurious designer goods and the most perfectly complete wardrobes you’ll see this side of the galaxy, the most deadly cause of FOMO is the vicious travel bug. Leaving college I had two options: pursue a dream job or go travel. My inner responsible adult opted for the job. Scrolling by crystal clear water, perfectly bronzed bodies and exotic far off destinations, I feel my chest tighten and my breathing becomes short thinking about what I’m missing out on while I’m in an office. But shouldn’t travel be about personal growth, cultural enrichment, exploration, new friendships, and a sense of adventure? Not about perfectly placed mojito’s and burning red sunsets. This is something that has really become heightened in the age of the influencer; where every minor detail of their lives is painfully documented but not really enjoyed. Don’t be fooled; many bloggers are well-versed in nailing the perfect Instagram formula to optimize their amount of ‘likes’. What you often don’t see is a stressed out blogger on a deserted beach in need of a plug socket to charge their phones; so don’t be fooled by what you cannot see (keep scrolling to see the proof).
It’s matter-of-fact that FOMO and social media are making our generation less social and more consumable. There’s no doubt that the internet has provided us with inundated opportunity to grow, explore, cherish memories, connect, and learn. Counterproductively, however, it has the power to spread anxiety like wildfire. As the photo’s below perfectly show, it’s never what it seems. A lot can be said for switching your phone off for a while and doing things that fill your heart and soul with happiness and joy.