We’ve all been there. It’s a normal night and you’re just by yourself, not doing anything special, then you check your phone and pull up Instagram or Snapchat and … BAM! You’re flooded with photos and videos of some event that everyone seems to be attending: except for you. You get that sinking feeling in your stomach. They’re all there. You’re not.
Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, is a relatively new concept that has been amplified with the advent of social media. Although it’s just a saying, it’s something that began to manipulate our day-to-day lives as soon as social media became an overwhelming presence in our society.
Before social media, if you weren’t invited to the party, you weren’t aware of the fact until the next day at school where everyone was talking about it, or when someone accidentally dropped the bomb on you. But now, we see things in real time. There’s been a pressure that has stemmed from social media that you need to be doing something cool all of the time and that the world needs to see it.
Honestly it’s not feasible to be doing cool stuff all the time. There are responsibilities that we need to tend to here at college that aren’t the most exciting: namely homework. However, the thing about living on a campus with around 6,000 students is that there will always be something fun going on. It’s definitely difficult to say no to things that are enjoyable, and as a result, we may hang out with people until two in the morning when what we need is a good night’s sleep, or go to a concert when what we really need is to spend the night in bed. Instead, we say that we’ll deal with the consequences later. FOMO can quite literally affect someone’s physical well-being.
Think of the strange paradox of living in the city: It’s common to feel alone even though you’re surrounded by people. Living in the social age is similar because even though physically you’re alone, you can be instantly reached by countless different mediums. At the same time, you are seeing the way that other people want you to see them using said mediums, all day every day. The only way to remove yourself fully is to separate yourself from your phone, which realistically isn’t feasible in our society. Talk about dizzying.
We all carry a sense of loneliness within us, especially in this day and age when we’re constantly connected. A study from Cigna reveals that nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone and that one in four Americans do not feel like they have anyone that truly understands them. Though using social media alone is not a predictor of loneliness, it has a significant effect. If we were able to separate ourselves from the constant presence of the outside world in moments of both happiness and sadness, we could feel more comfortable with going through life just as we are.