You tell yourself you're not going to check your phone this time. In fact, you are resolved on it. You set your it in the farthest corner of the room to charge and focus on the movie you're watching as you spend your third consecutive weekend in. You tell yourself it doesn't bother you being in. Besides, you would rather get sleep and be healthy than stay out all night and feel awful the next day. But still, as always, you end up on your phone by the end of the night. You tap through seemingly endless Snap stories of girls getting ready together, getting dinner, going uptown. It's like poison to the soul, seeing these posts. By the end of the night, you feel somewhat worthless.
You wonder why you never seem to be able to have as much fun as everyone else.
Welcome to the era of social media. Where a single post can degrade or altogether destroy your self-esteem. Where everyone's life seems to simply be better than yours. It's become a platform of self-expression that's both wonderful and toxic. It facilitates relationships, connections and a better understanding of one another. But it also facilitates a little thing our digital word has come to coin as FOMO, or the fear of missing out. The word got its own addition to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013 and has seemingly taken over the lives of teens across Western society ever since. Psychology Today stated this culturally-cultivated concept is linked with fatigue, stress, sleep problems and psychosomatic symptoms.
I read something on Twitter just the other day pointing out that Jay Gatsby throwing grand and illicit parties just so Daisy Buchanan might notice him is the equivalent of us in modern society posting a Snap story just so one single person might see it. I felt like this uncanny comparison really got to the root of the nastiest qualities of FOMO. Someone might post a photo of them with their newest "rebound" simply because they want to take a jab at their ex. Or update their Snap story with a selfie of them and a big group of friends just to let the girl they dislike know she wasn't invited. It seems like it's the best form of silent revenge, like a flashing sign proving to your enemies or wrongdoers that you are better off without them, or that you are living a much better, more fun life than they are.
But anyone who read "The Great Gatsby" knows that Jay was not really enjoying himself at those parties. Sure they seemed wondrous and unforgettable from across the lake, but at the end of the night, Jay Gatsby still felt empty inside.
I know that sometimes it may seem like you're missing out on the "Gatsby party" being displayed across the screen of your phone. That you are the only one who wasn't invited, the only one in the world staying in with a bowl of popcorn. It can hurt. But these Gatsby parties are never what they seem. Social media is like the highlight reel of our lives. We can manipulate it and edit it to make our lives seemingly perfect to the eye. It's starting to feel like if bragging and showing off were banned, people wouldn't post anything at all, essentially destroying the original concept of social media. People want to make it look like they're having fun on a Friday night, to make it seem like they are living and thriving and having a better time than everybody else in their Snapchat contacts. But at the end of the day, they might truly rather be sitting in their beds like you, eating a bowl of popcorn.
As Erica Jong once said, "Jealousy is all the fun you think they had." To survive in the age of FOMO, we need to take everything with a grain of salt. We must realize that Instagram isn't real life, only real life is real life. So don't spend yours scrolling through a platform of false truths, spend it living. The days you don't post anything on social media are truly the days when you're having the most fun. When you are so preoccupied and filled with joy that you forget to even check your phone, you break the cycle of FOMO. So allocate your attention to the right places. Don't live in the lies of your screen. Live here, now. And enjoy it.