Social Media and sometimes FOMO in your Thirties

I have a love/dislike (hate is too strong a word) relationship with Social Media. There are many reasons for this, some simply to do with concentrating on better ways to spend my time. But the biggest reason for my discomfort with social media is that it can occasionally make me feel really bad about myself.

The badness I feel from social media is a strange type of vexation- it comes and goes. When I go through social media ‘feel good’ periods, I can actually remain in a peaceful fun stretch for quite awhile. I understand the points of connection and sharing that are at the core of Facebook or Snapchat. I even feel connected. I feel looped in. I enjoy sharing. I enjoy commenting. I feel like An Important Part of Something Big. And I actually really like social media at these times.

But then there are the FOMO periods. These periods can happen at two very opposite times for me: 1.During times when I’m using social media a lot. 2. During times when I’m using social media not a lot ..but am thinking about it.

FOMO, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, stands for Fear of Missing Out, and I think social media taps into this inner fear more than anything else I’ve ever known. FOMO occurs from social media because people are sharing the polished, highlight reels of their lives and not necessarily what’s actually happening- so everything looks pretty good from an outsiders view. People rarely share worries about their relationships, career fears, family drama, fallouts with friends, financial struggles and the like. Social Media is full of platitudes, photos of cute kids, congratulations on new jobs, sunny visits to the beach, diamond engagement rings, delicious food with friends, and more happy times.

Honestly, that’s okay. That’s what social media is here to do for the most part- enable people to share great parts of their lives. Super depressing happenings usually come off as weird on a news feed and people understand that. I don’t necessarily want to read about tons of negative happenings either.

Yet, even being aware of the highlight reel nature of the beast can’t stop FOMO from coming. There’s a certain discouragement I can feel when scrolling a Facebook feed, especially if I’m already feeling not so great. I can get extra down on myself. Why am I not as happy as I can be right now? My friends seem so happy. Everyone is so busy doing social things- they’re all together- am I being antisocial? Oh god, I don’t use Snapchat enough. Everyone is having fun. Why can’t I get into Instagram? Why don’t I have 6 pack abs? I need to take gym selfies or no one will know I went to the gym! I need to use social media or no one will know I exist!! IF I DONT WRITE ABOUT IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, DID IT EVEN REALLY HAPPEN??

Even though my mind knows most of these thoughts are extremely silly, the feelings come anyway. I’m bombarded with feels as I’m bombarded with feeds. Some of these thoughts are a mild exaggeration, but you may recognize others in yourself.

Some people don’t go through FOMO at all- I have a few extremely extroverted friends who remain in love with their Snapchat stories and Facebook feeds, and never seem jealous or sad about the whole thing. But this post is for the people who do have this kind of anxiety, or even occasionally do. You’re not alone. And you’re not missing out either.

I don’t have an answer for social media induced FOMO except to take breaks from the newsfeed and stories from time to time. But in my moments of greatest clarity I know that the only fear of missing out I should have is of the present moment. And the most important place to be, no matter what others are up to, is always where I am now.

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30 Women Around the Globe Reflect on Life at 30

International Women’s Day was just last week- March 8th. In honor of that day, Stylist magazine interviewed 30 women, all age 30, from all over the world. Here’s the link to that article: This is what 30 looks like: women across the world share their experiences. 

The women talked about their careers right now, whether they were single, married, or in a relationship, whether or not they had children, whether they were where they thought they’d be at 30, and more.

The biggest thing I noticed about the article was the discrepancy in the experiences and the voices. Every woman was at a different point in their life- some were 30 and worried about being single, some were 30 with 3 kids. Some were 30 and stay at home moms, some were 30 and running their own business. Some were 30 and worried about money. Some were 30 and worried about going outside at night because in their country they might be raped or killed. “Women aren’t safe. I can’t walk the streets for fear of being killed or raped; this is the product of patriarchy in my country.” – Sandra de la Cruz, Lima Peru.

Some were super happy with their lives while single, some super happy while married with kids. Some seemed unsatisfied while single, some seemed unsatisfied married with 3 kids. I feel like reading about all these different experiences for women at 30 really fights the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) issue that I sometimes have. I want to do everything at once. I want to experience life with my own business, and also maybe have a life learning at another company. I want to experience being pregnant and having a child, but also experience being happily married into my fifties and sixties without a child interrupting, and without the life-changing responsibilities of a child.

It’s hard to want everything at once, and to want everyone else’s experiences too. This happens to me sometimes- I’m in a happy vacuum alone, enjoying my time, but then someone will tell me about something they’ve done, and I’ll want to do it too.

The article really brought home how different experiences can all be valid and happy-making, and there’s no one portrait of what a thirty-something’s life should be like. Follow your own happiness and make your own life and you won’t miss out on anything.

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Less FOMO in Your 30s

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but I’ve found that I have much less FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) now that I’m in my 30s. I distinctly remember feeling very unsettled on Friday and Saturday nights in my 20s when I didn’t have plans. I’d wonder what everyone else was doing and feared that I was missing out on establishing key bonds and friend/romantic opportunities because I wasn’t out on the town.

But now, I spend at least one Friday or Saturday night per weekend at home, vegging out. Usually that involves wine and good TV/movies (now it’s Showtime’s Billions, Hulu’s The Mindy Project, HBO’s Getting On, and the list goes on…). I also love reading, and books give me lots of warm fuzzies during my downtime.

I used to have guilt about using this time to be by myself and enjoy my own company on a  weekend, but not anymore.

Maybe one of the reasons is that I don’t really go on Facebook a lot – I’m more an Instagram type of girl, and my favorite posts are usually inspirational posts from Elizabeth Gilbert and my celeb girl crushes. So, my social media usage doesn’t bring me down, but instead serves to lift me up (most of the time).

Psychological studies have proven that most FOMO is derived from social media. In fact, there’s a quiz you can take called “Rate my FOMO” that seems to gage your level of FOMO based on your social media usage. You can check it out here, Rate my FOMO.

Studies have shown that FOMO seems to happen when your social/psychological needs aren’t being met, and thus you turn to social media for connection. Then, the vicious cycle begins – you see your ‘friends’ doing fun activities without you, and you wonder why you’re not doing these cool activities.

So, maybe in our 30s, we know how to take care of ourselves better. We know how to meet our psychological and social needs, and we know the basics of self-care.

What do you think? Do you have less FOMO than you used to?

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