16 Oct How Gen Z-ers can manage FOMO caused by social media
Imagine this scenario: you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is pick up your phone and open Instagram. You start scrolling, and you see countless pictures of people that look like they’re having the time of their lives. Some people are having fun with friends, while others are going on vacations to far away places. All of their lives look so exciting, and you can’t help but wonder why your own life just doesn’t seem to be as fun. Then, you start to feel this need to keep up with everyone. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun, and you don’t want to be left out. It may even get to the point where the idea of missing out is causing you stress. You decide that whatever it is they’re doing, you need to do it too.
If this sounds familiar to you, then social media may be causing you FOMO.
What is FOMO?
FOMO is the “Fear of Missing Out.” It’s that dreadful feeling you get at the thought of everyone else having fun without you. When you scroll through Instagram and start to feel bad because everyone else looks like they’re having a great time and you’re not, you are having a case of FOMO.
FOMO is not the same as genuinely wanting to do something, as it is driven by the fear of not experiencing something, rather than the desire to experience something. People with FOMO tend to feel overwhelmed by all of the things that they aren’t doing.
The problem with FOMO and social media
Imagine a typical day, one that involves going to school, working, and just sitting around at home for the most part. Now imagine a fun day, one where you go somewhere exciting and different with friends, take lots of pictures and make long lasting memories. Even though you probably have more days like the first one, you’re probably more likely to post about the second one.
When you look at Instagram and see all these pictures of people doing fun things, you may start to believe that everyone’s lives are just so much more exciting than yours, but the truth is that what you see on social media is usually just a very small portion of people’s real lives. In reality, everyone else has plenty of boring days too, they just don’t usually post about them.
We all have a tendency to compare our lives to the lives of others. You know the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side?” Bring social media into the picture, where everyone posts only the very best parts of their lives, edited to perfection, and it gets pretty easy to convince yourself that everyone else is just so much happier than you are.
How to deal with FOMO caused by social media
Social media can be fun, but it can also be harmful to your mental health, especially if you find yourself constantly comparing your life to those of others. Here are some things you can do to have a more positive experience with social media:
Remember that what you see isn’t everything. On Instagram, everything and everyone looks picture perfect. In reality, the majority of people you see on social media are probably not so different from you. As you scroll through your feed, keep in mind that you are only seeing a small fraction of everyone’s lives.
Try not to compare yourself. Instead of wishing your life was more like someone else’s, try to appreciate what you have. Practice having gratitude and confidence.
Consider unfollowing some accounts. If there are certain accounts that you just can’t help but compare yourself to, it may be for the best that you unfollow them.
Take a social media break. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts, it may be time to take a break from social media. Prioritize your mental well-being.
Hopefully, these tips can help you manage your FOMO and feel more positive about the things you see on social media. For more advice on well-being and growth, take a look at The Smart Spirit website.
Ariella is a senior at San Diego State University studying advertising. She is passionate about creating content and especially enjoys writing about travel and lifestyle topics.