It was an average Thursday, and after going back and forth, I finally decided to stay in that night. Before you criticize, I know that deciding to trusting my gut and acknowledging the importance of my studies are not things that deserve applause. However, if you possess as many social media accounts as I do, you understand that staying in is not just a decision to not go out and have a good time with friends, but it is an opportunity to potentially miss out on the rest of the night, and worse, the days after. It means accepting the you will be constantly reminded of that what you were not present for for days to come.
FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” is not as revolutionary of a concept as we may think (Sorry Millennials- you cannot take credit on this one). Rather, it is a past idea that has only become more prominent in recent years. With the rise of excessive media consumption and technology use, it is nearly impossible to allow yourself to forget that you missed out on whatever “totally amazing” time your friends had.
As I laid in bed at 10:00 p.m. (a new personal record this semester), the bright screen illuminated my bare and bored face. Whilst mindlessly scrolling through BuzzFeed, GroupMe messages constantly interrupted: “What time are meeting ladies?!” followed by an excessive amount of emojis all related to partying, celebrating and having a great time.
For the rest of the night, messages filtered through my phone; relaying the excitement, pictures of friends’ outfits, plans for days afterwards and so on (because even at 2:00 a.m. when you think the messages will silence and allow you to sleep, you are wrong).
The next morning, I woke up to dozens of photo additions on people’s Facebook albums, as well as a myriad of witty-captioned, inside-joke-related Instagram posts and an overwhelming amount of VSCO posts that somehow didn’t make it on the other social media platforms.
But the worst of them all? Snapchat. It is a rookie mistake, the one I regret the moment I click through a few stories. The constant updates remind you that you were not there, dancing until dawn to your favorite songs with your favorite friends. Instead of laughing in the bathroom at your friend’s incompetence or shrieking with joy as your friends bust out their highly embarrassing dance moves, you chose to study.
Although you are ahead in your studies and cramming for that midterm next week, you realize that the world outside of your room keeps spinning. To you, time has stopped as you hit the books, but for everyone else, it is moving full speed ahead without you. Thanks for the reminder Snapchat. (Note to self: delete social media next time.)
However, maybe it is too soon to say goodbye to the dog filter or the flower crown. The key is to remember that the world depicted on social media is far from reality. Facebook and Instagram pictures capture the high points in our lives and just the high points. That false sense of inclusion you receive from senseless scrolling is a distorted perception of reality. If social media platforms depicted every aspect of our lives, there would be thousands of posts from users staying in with friends, pulling all-nighters in the library or binge-watching their favorite Netflix series’ at home. The reality is that everyone has those days, but no one shows them.
Of course scrolling through an endless reel of the previous night’s highlights will leave you with a wave of regret, but it does not have to. Being mindful about your social media consumption can help decrease your FOMO, as well as its symptoms of depression and anxiety. Instead of wasting your time reminding yourself of the moments you missed, live in the present.
Do not allow the pasts of others minimize the quality of the your current life. Life will not wait for you to catch up just because you spend time pining over what you did not experience. Living for yourself will benefit you more than wasting time succumbing to the anxiety of missing out. Focus on your own precious life and use this one shot to maximize its potential.