When you're growing up, being a teenager can seem like a pretty tough deal- and I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be going through the transition into adulthood surrounded by so much technology today. Back when I was a youth all I had to worry about was beating my highest Snake score on my trusty Nokia 3310, but today there's so much more to contend with- from social media induced FOMO, streams of Snapchat stories and endless Facebook induced fails, online interaction can seem absolutely inescapable. FOMO's a funny old phenomenon too, isn't it? If I'm being completely honest, up until recently I wasn't 100% sure what it was- but it transpires that Fear Of Missing Out is actually a thing- and something which our growing appetite for social media minutiae seems to feed into relentlessly. Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as the next girl of serial Insta-spam, but whereas my photos are largely a filtered look at what I'm having for lunch (sorry not sorry), for some living life constantly glued online feeds into some serious FOMO anxiety. Whether it's friends looking like they're having fun without you, someone having the most amazing tropical adventure and sharing on every social media platform under the sun, or a constant collection of people dropping the engagement/baby/mortgage bomb online, sometimes so-called social media can make you feel pretty isolated, left out or left behind. Anti-social, infact.
I'm a huge fan of the internet- after all, I wouldn't be able to share all of this with you without it, but in an age where so much of our communication and conversation takes place online, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds themselves longing for a good old fashioned chat every now and again. How many times have you been out with friends only to be distracted by your phone, or for them to constantly be checking their notifications? In a world where we're more connected than ever, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds myself longing for a proper conversation, sans smart phone.
Thinking about FOMO also got me musing on the way in which we use social media, particularly more visual mediums like Instagram. It's interesting to think about these sort of platforms becoming more and more weaponized, whether it's in terms of allowing something like cyberbulling to thrive, feeding body image anxiety or perpetuating the exclusion complex which FOMO originates from. Whereas in the past your invitation to *that* party might have just got lost in the post and you could forget all about it, now you have to dodge the constant stream of selfies, tweets about 'fun times' and Facebook check ins showing you exactly what you're missing out on. Sometimes it can feel like the Mean Girls mentality has gone viral- and not in a 'fetch' way, know what I mean?!
Ultimately, I think the idea of FOMO (and all other associated web-based anxieties!) can probably be most closely linked to peer pressure. When I was growing up all you really had to worry about was avoiding being ganged up on by the school smokers, keeping your head down and getting on with things (including beating that aforementioned high score on Snake), but the modern shift in communication from first person to online means that day to day life can be dominated by a perceived pressure to conform, to be buying what everyone else is buying and to be doing what everyone else is *having so much fun* doing. In this instance, the voice of experience offers the best advice on this- life's too short. Too short to worry about what other people are doing. To waste time and energy on scrolling through social media to see what you've missed out on because you decided to have a lazy day with Netflix and your duvet rather than rushing about Instagramming that hip new hangout or visiting that pop up shop which everyone else has been raving about. Here's a thought- imagine if we all spent those wasted FOMO spells on celebrating living our own lives in the moment. Because #YOLO, right?!
What are your thoughts and experiences of FOMO? I'd love to hear what you think so drop me a comment!
(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)