The Culture of FOMO
FOMO, an abbreviation known well by Millennials and Gen Z kids. For those of you not aware—you probably don’t fall in the generations named above—FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is the feeling you get when you see your friend’s Instagram post with the caption “Yesterday was so much fun. I love these guys lol” and you just happen not to be in the photo, or the snapchat story of an acquaintance that is basically live streaming their night out as you’re in bed watching Real Househelps of Kawangware. The truth is if you are active on any social media platform, you’ve experienced FOMO.
FOMO is a disease brought on by social media and the only way to defeat it is to accept you have it and stop using social media forever—no but really your general desire to use social media will slowly diminish. The first time I acknowledged my FOMO, I don’t think the abbreviation FOMO existed; I was big on Tumblr, not big meaning I had thousands of followers and got 100 asks everyday (I wish), big meaning Tumblr was my addiction but addictions always have their side-effects. At the time, I used to get these mixed emotions of jealousy and worthlessness when I’d see someone’s selfie getting more notes than mine or someone getting more asks than me. It was totally unhealthy and I’d often admire (stalk) all those people that were able to achieve all I wasn’t able to in terms of recognition in the ‘Tumblr-sphere’. Tumblr is the kind of place where a 14 year old can make you feel bad about your life just because their blog in on point and they’re Tumblr famous. I started to carry a lot of negativity from Tumblr with me; this was strange to me because it used to be a place of so much joy.
Once I was able to pinpoint the source of my negativity I immediately went on a hiatus and put an announcement on my blog thinking people would actually care (I think only 10 people did). Nothing major happened during that break, just a feeling of freedom. When I later came back after 2 weeks it wasn’t really the same and around 6 months later I left again, this time for good. I didn’t use any social media for a week, I may have continued but all my series started coming back and I didn’t have any way of finding out so I revived my Twitter account.
Let me break down for you why any sort of social media platform can became a source of negativity:
It lowers your self esteem
Social media is good at making people lives seem perfect, a single Instagram post can make you feel like you’re not worth anything. Suddenly you’re not skinny enough, your clothes aren’t trendy enough, your make up point isn’t fleek enough the list in endless. You start to think that you’re worthless.
You become addicted
Just like any addiction, you become obsessed with it. You turn into a stalker without even knowing it. You may even start to make changes to yourself to become that one person. You know those thriller movies where some teenage girl is stalking and obsessing over some girl or boy? Check yourself because you just may be that teenage stalker girl. This makes you addicted to social media; it is very much possible to use social media and not be addicted to it, you just have to learn how.
You start trying to impress people who don’t even know you
The internet actually imitates life, the same way you may face the question on whether people will like your clothes before you live your house, before you tweet, retweet, post or reblog you faced with the question of whether your followers will like it. But why are trying to impress strangers on the internet? Why is it important for you to give them that certain impression of your life?
I mentioned the phrase ‘Tumblr famous’ earlier, thinking about it it’s a very interesting phrase. A lot of millennials and Gen Z’s are obsessed with fame, but today fame isn’t just Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on the front page of tabloids, fame is now universal, it’s something anyone can achieve if you have access to the internet. On the internet there’s enough room for anyone to reach fame through the several disciplines, and fame isn’t only 5 minutes, fame lasts forever. Internet famous people have their loyal followers aka minions, these minions are almost always subject to FOMO. It’s one thing to admire someone or like the stuff they tweet or post and it’s a whole other thing to feel like your life sucks compared to them. Yes the internet imitates real life but it also accelerates it, making people go through a whole lot of emotions that they probably wouldn’t have to if they didn’t use the internet. Evaluate yourself, are you a minion and if so are you happy?
Written by Victoria Muthiani
*Originally posted on 3rd April 2017