A Case Against FOMO

photo credit: apocalypsecometh.com

photo credit: apocalypsecometh.com

This week, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. One friend from high school announced that she was following her passion and moving to India to teach yoga. Another quit her ho-hum job, packed up her life in a New York minute and moved to New England to open a bed & breakfast (where she plans to perfect the art of the gourmet morning meal for her guests and long, dreamy walks along the beach for herself). Three more friends sent their kids off to prestigious colleges, another gushed about seeing his fourth Broadway show in one month, and yet another posted photos from a swank, Venetian costume party – IN Venice.  And while I poured over the photos of yet another friend’s fitness competition  (Yep, she lost 40 pounds AND managed to become a hard body in the process) it occurred to me: I had developed a nagging case of FOMO.

If you have kids or a smartphone, you probably know what FOMO means. If you don’t, let me enlighten you. FOMO is Internet slang for the “fear of missing out.”  It’s that nagging feeling that you’ve somehow missed the boat, that other people are living more interesting lives and are generally happier and more fulfilled than you. FOMO’s nothing new. After all, they didn’t coin the phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses” for nothing. But now, thanks to social media, FOMO is running rampant. We’re faced, daily, with a constant barrage of real-time posts, photos and tweets about what all of our friends are up to, and one glance at your Facebook wall can easily tell you that  your life pales by comparison.

The question is, does it really?

When you stop to think about it, social media posts are just snapshots of people’s lives. They’re highlights, carefully phrased accounts of what people are willing or eager to share. In other words, while your old college roommate is guaranteed to share her excitement about the promotion she just nailed, it’s not likely she’ll post about her marital troubles or the fact that she feels like a failure as a parent. The truth is, we all face worries and the mundane existence of day-to-day life. Hell, we’ve all spent months wondering where each day went, entire weekends on the couch in our pajamas, and hours looking for lost car keys and cell phones. We’re just not going to tweet about it. Neither are your followers. It’s human to envy your friend who just met the man of her dreams, built a successful, rewarding business, and is now taking her fifth trip (with said hunk) around the world. It’s pretty likely, though, that there are also parts of her life that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. When you’re nursing a massive case of envy inspired FOMO just remember, the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you would still have to mow it.

5 thoughts on “A Case Against FOMO

  1. amykefauver

    Insightful, Lisa Marie, as always! I’ve noticed too, though, that many Facebook posts offer TMI (I’m hip enough to know that means “too much information”) either verbally or in some horrific “selfies” (I’m psychically damaged now by seeing these self-portraits of parts of the body), or just indulge in petty complaints and whining. Facebook is mostly trite cocktail conversation. Occasionally there is a flash of insight or brilliance, or a photo of a darling nephew or niece, that keeps you going back to that Newsfeed. But let me be the first to step up and say that while my husband and I are pulling up roots, moving north, and starting a new business we are, as you suspect, not floating on a wealthy boat to dreamland. We have no job or health insurance, and the future is unknown. We think we are smart enough and hard-working enough to make a go of it, but we have learned the hard way that nothing in life is certain. Sometimes sharing the good parts of your life on Facebook, or over a cup of coffee, is our way of beating back the demons of doubt that are always hovering. Finally, your last sentence is a pearl — witty, pithy, perfect!

    1. lmdesanto Post author

      Amy – Let ME to be the first to step up and say that on those rare occasions when there is a flash of insight or positivity on Facebook these days, you are often the source! I love the way you write, and what you choose to write about. And I agree when you say, “Sometimes sharing the good parts of your life on Facebook, or over a cup of coffee, is our way of beating back the demons of doubt.” Those demons can be fierce. Life is so very challenging these days – and it’s important to remember that we’re all doing our best to navigate through it, often on limited resources and faced with challenges that aren’t being shared with the world. Envy is an ineffective emotion. Positivity is key, for sure. Lots of people romanticize the lives of others, if only for a brief moment before sanity takes over. The truth is, many of my Facebook friends are suffering due to unemployment, illness, loss, abuse… They’re all, like you, taking the ingredients of their lives and creating unique, new, delicious recipes out of them. It takes character and a great deal of audacity to do this, as you well know. As individuals I hope we can all try to wish our friends well on their endeavors, knowing that there is more to the picture than meets the eye. If we’re smart, instead of nursing FOMO, we might remember to be inspired, maybe even to make something better of our own lives.

  2. Laura Buonarobo

    The reality you pose at the end of this blog is priceless and so true. If only people would get it! and remember they can and should make the most out of what they have. The greatness lies within all of us. Thanks LisaMarie.

    1. Dana

      Wow! Sometimes I think you can actually delve into my brain and figure out what I am thinking. I actually didn’t know there was a name for what I was feeling! As usual, your insight was eloquently expressed, and I so appreciate it. Thanks for reminding me to savor each day, and to enjoy the beautiful chaos that keeps life authentic! You inspire me!

  3. Pingback: FOMO, what is this????? | local2global

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