The FOMO Epidemic

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a fairly new term to me. I had never heard of this “diagnosis” until I came to college and found a friend who shared her trouble with it. I realized this was legitimate and that I had struggled with it for a long time before I even knew what it was called.

Obviously, FOMO isn’t a serious disease or anything close to such, but it is an issue, a major issue, to my generation and the ones following our suit.

Social media has allowed us to connect in more ways than ever before and it’s affecting the way we live and communicate with each other. At any given time I know I can find someone’s location, the friend group they’re with, what they’re doing or nearly any other identifier via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and/or Snapchat. While this can be rather beneficiary when needed, this information creeps into our minds and sets in, impacting us more than we recognize.

We have instant access to see all the places our peers are traveling, who they’re going with, the milestones they’re achieving, the fun they’re having, all while we’re (most often) sitting on the couch or laying in bed embarrassingly early on a Friday night. We allow other peoples’ experiences to make us feel inferior, less fun, less desirable, less successful. We realize all the places and events to which we weren’t invited. We see old friends getting engaged and married, triggering nostalgia for previous times in our lives and fabricating a craving for a similar situation. It’s ruining us. It’s ruining our nows. It’s ruining our futures.

We spend so much time focusing on other peoples’ nows and our own pasts and how they may have overlapped or lacked or whatever else, that we’re missing our own lives blurring past our phone-locked eyes. We set nearly unattainable goals for our futures based off what people decide to share through social media, building our lives and desires on faulty foundations.

What we fail to realize is that people (usually) don’t share the tragic, less than desirable moments of their lives on social media. They choose their happiest, most successful moments, manipulate them into picture form and pair them with clever captions that took a solid half hour to conjure up. Each wedding hashtag, every #relationshipgoals, all of the fire and heart eye emojis filling Instagram comments are based off of the extremely unrealistic versions of others’ lives.

My goal isn’t to attack social media (it is a beautiful thing) or shoot down wedding hashtags (I’ve already come up with various possibilities of my own [no shame]), but rather to warn my peers of the dangers of obsessing over the lives we watch through the lens of social media. We have to be cautious and aware of what we allow ourselves to believe and submit to.

In a time where worth is found in numbers of likes, retweets and shares, we become lonelier and lonelier. We fill our free time with hours of binge-scrolling through tweets instead of accomplishing tasks worth considerably more (this is an attack on myself). We’re subconsciously forfeiting deeper relationships with actual, present humans for a Tumblr worthy life portrayed through candids and witty captions.

Our generation has seen an increase in anxiety issues and depression compared to those before us, and we’re definitely an awkward bunch of people. I can’t help but correlate this rise to the corresponding boost of social media. We’ve become so lonely because we isolate ourselves to watch the lives of others through a glass screen, not realizing that our attempt to avoid missing out on everyone’s fun causes us to miss our own.

In the pursuit of satisfying our FOMO by scrolling through posts and comments and comparing numbers of likes and crafty captions, we’re sacrificing our chance to live life to fullest and failing to take advantage of what we don’t even realize we’re missing. It’s a never ending cycle that we’ve created for ourselves.

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