I was drifting through my social media feeds recently and I realized something quite profound. Many times in life, we talk about FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Here’s the description of FOMO from Wikipedia:
Fear of missing out or FoMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social angst is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.
FOMO is a real problem for almost everyone. We’re all making decisions every day on what to do with our 24 hours and we all face the reality that we’re going to miss out on something. It’s just the stark reality of this life. As my mother always told me, “John, you can’t do everything.” As usual, my mom was right. You can’t do everything and that means that you’re going to miss out on something.
The problem with social media isn’t that it creates FOMO. You can be afraid of missing out on something and not be on social media. However, I realized that most people’s social media paints a clear picture that indeed you are missing out. There’s no fear of missing out. You know very clearly that you are missing out.
I think back just the past couple weeks to things I’ve seen on social media. One of my friends was in Italy. Another one was at Disney World. Another one was walking on the beach with her family. Another one was in Hawaii. I could go on and on.
The reality of life is that all of us have friends every single day doing something fun and we’re not part of it. Plus, most of us only share the fun things we do on social media. So, our social media feeds are full of the most fun things are friends are doing and very few of the hard things. I guess this is really an extension of my previous post about “Saying You’re Happy” where I said:
How dangerous is it for us to compare our worst perceptions of ourselves against our “friends” best image of themselves?
This post probably sounds like I’m anti social media. I make my living off of social media, so I’m a big fan of the benefits of social media. However, I also see first hand the concerns over the negative impact of social media as well. Being inundated by everyone’s best experiences is one of those negative impacts.
I’m not sure I have all the solutions to this problem. It’s hard to see all your friends “having fun” and not let that effect you. Sure, it helps to be unselfish and celebrate the fun your friends are having. Some people are better at this than others. However, I think this has an impact on everyone.
There’s a lot of benefits that can come from social media. It’s great to stay up with friends. It’s great for grandparents to keep up with their grandchildren. You can learn the latest news and insights on a specific topic. You can connect and network with amazing people. You can be incredibly entertained. There’s a lot of good that can come from social media, but we have to be very aware of the negatives too.