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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How to Drive People Crazy On Facebook In Your Thirties (and Not the Good Crazy)

Sure, we’ve referred to the thirties here at OMG I’m Thirty as the “giving zero fucks” decade, but occasionally, it helps to give a fuck. If you’ve achieved the holy grail of giving zero fucks in your thirties, maybe skip this social media post.

However, my fellow still-fuck-giving-thirty-somethings, we’re the Facebook generation (and now the Instagram and Snapchat generation (because we’re cool enough to keep up with the young kids’ technology)), and we have a responsibility not to completely and utterly drive each other crazy on social media. You know it happens, I know it happens, and we might as well talk about it happening. We’re the generation that had social media foisted upon our otherwise Wow-I have- A-Real-Life-Computer lives. And now social media is everywhere and we can’t get away from it (well, we can, but that requires the willpower of an olympic athlete and/or the home set-up of a cave-dweller).

So without further ado, here’s a rant about the latest and greatest social media that has everyone I meet annoyed. (Disclaimer: most of this is a joke. Sort of. #KiddingNotKidding.)

  1. The Humble Brag– I think most people are guilty of this one, including myself. Think about how you’d react to something yourself before you post it. Putting up photos of yourself holding wads of money and writing: “when you want something bad enough and you put it out there, all of the universe conspires to help you” annoys most people. This was recently a real post from one of my Facebook friends. I hope she isn’t reading this.
  2. The Gym Selfies– “Can’t stop, won’t stop”, “Go ahead tell me that I can’t and I’ll show you that I can.”, “They said she couldn’t, she said watch me.” Okay, we believe you can. Can you just go do it and stop letting us know? Sigh.
  3. The Million Baby Posts- This one doesn’t really annoy me, but some of my friends have de-friended people for it. No more than a few photos of your baby a week, unless the baby was just born, please. And ‘a few’ is generous. At the very least, make an album and put them all up at once.
  4. The Vague Negativity Posts: “Ugh…”, “This has been the worst day :(“, “The darkness surrounds me.” These are intensely negative yet unspecific posts, and they scream ‘attention seeker!’ At least tell us what happened in the original post so we don’t have to ask! Or wait.. was your intention for us to ask? And please don’t reply after we ask: “I don’t want to talk about it.” Just no.
  5. The Non-Humble Brag: “I have the most amazing boyfriend ever!” “I’m so lucky I’m in Paris with my magnificent boyfriend and the cutest dog ever…here are all my photos!” “I have the best job that you’ll never get and I just got a raise!” Okay, we’re probably all guilty of this one in not so many words. But try to be conscious of all the green-eyed monsters this will awaken in your Facebook friends. If you post more than 2 brags a week, you’re cut off.
  6. The Bait and Switch: “Sometimes when no one’s looking I like to cover myself in Nutella and roll around on the carpet.” Woh, really?! But when I like or comment on your status you tell me ‘Psych! This is to raise awareness for Green And Blue Strep Throat Syndrome Disorder. Now you have 24 hrs to paste this post as your status or you’re a terrible person who doesn’t support the cause.’ Oh nooooooo you didn’t!!!
  7. The “I’m Gonna Leave Facebook, Goodbye World” post. Just leave, please. Go silently into the dark night. The world will keep turning. It’s very likely I won’t notice you’ve left.
  8. The Plethora of Selfies. I really don’t like selfies unless they have someone else in them…or unless they’re at least showing off a cool background. Maybe once or twice in a little while you can indulge your selfie obsession… but not all the time. This is super duper extra bad if it also falls into the Gym Selfies category… and I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. Pun intended. Please tone it down. Ugh…
  9. The Random Invite.  We haven’t seen each other in 7 years and you’re inviting me to your Best Gardener Award Ceremony in Spokane, Washington. Really? I’m obviously not gonna be there, I live in New York and you’re not really my friend. Come on now.
  10. The Constant Positivity Poster – “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”Do what makes you happy.” Shut up. We get it. You’re happier than me. Ughhhh… whyyyy???
  11. The Do-Gooder Evangelist: “If you’re not a vegan you’re going to hell.” “Candy and makeup are full of toxic chemicals and you’re gonna shrivel up, get terrible pimples and cystic acne and die soon, horrible make-up wearing candy eater.” Sometimes I love beautiful vegan touting posts, or posts promoting clean eating or animal welfare. But they need to be worded wisely and non-judmentally. Tread lightly. Not everyone is as saintly as you. Take pity on us mortals.

So that’s what I have for now. Haha, I’m gonna go humbly brag about this post on Facebook now. And then maybe post something politically polarizing.

What drives YOU crazy on social media?

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Facebook Nostalgia in Your Thirties

I was on Facebook tonight saying happy birthday to a friend when I accidentally clicked the wrong button and was suddenly transported back to 2011.

Time traveling back a few years in Facebook time brought me to London. I was visiting my then-boyfriend and was very excited to see him. I scrolled down and watched myself quote Pablo Neruda a half dozen times, recommend 3 “brilliant” plays I don’t remember seeing, sit backstage jittering before going onstage and performing, invite people to donate to numerous kickstarter campaigns, and link to The Onion as much as I could humanly link. I also posted a few things that I would laugh scoffingly at now such as “Happy. Peaceful. Joyous.” Gag.

And then there were a few things that I would absolutely still post now, including all my travel/work updates/stories such as “In Mexico City trying to work but failing at Spanish language. Thought people here spoke English but was sadly misinformed. Now being laughed at by customers as I read Espanol verbatum from product brochure.”

I was actually about to write a post for this blog when Facebook dredged up these strange throwbacks. The darn site ended up keeping me on guiltily for an extra 30 minutes, as I nostalgically read over post after post dated all the way back to 2010. I hadn’t seen any of them in years, yet, for most, I remembered exactly how I felt when I wrote them.

Though I’m prone to nostalgia anyway, Facebook has a special way of pulling up sentimentality in me, I’ve been on the site since college, and now that I’m thirty, it’s become this time capsule of so much of my young adult life…but in these strange little quippy bows that aren’t exactly how things were at all.

It’s funny to think that a lot of the younger generation isn’t really using Facebook anymore but has switched platforms to other social media… such as Instagram and …god knows what else. Haha, I can’t think of the new forms of social media. Am I really getting old? WhatsApp and Snapchat come to mind, but they’re not really social media… It’s kinda sad/kinda funny how unaware I am of the new wave of Social Media apps. And I’m usually a pretty techie person…

I actually went and looked up “Facebook in your thirties.” I wanted to see if there were articles about Facebook dying off in the younger generation while still being a mainstay of this one. Instead I ended up coming across article after article about how Facebook just introduced a new nostalgia-inducing feature called “On This Day.”  Apparently there will be a new button on Facebook, similar to Timehop, that’ll take you back to what you did on this day last year…and up to 4 years ago. This new feature was introduced March 24, otherwise known as ‘today.’ Pretty ironic, huh?

When I Facebook time traveled back to 2011, I didn’t push the “On This Day” button. I don’t even have the button- it’s apparently rolling out to users in waves and it’s not on my computer yet. I just happened to accidentally click into the past on the exact same day that Facebook rolls out a new nostalgia feature. Sometimes life can be funny like that.

But then again, life always has been sort of funny, hasn’t it?

 

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That Time You Hated Positivity In Your Thirties

Have you ever had someone say “cheer up” or “smile” to you? Did it annoy you at the time?

Have you ever wondered why you can’t constantly be happy and peaceful? Why do circumstances always come at you and change your happy perspective for a bit? Why can’t you get back that peace you felt a minute ago or yesterday or last week or last year?

I used to think, “all I want is to be strong all the time. And I feel strong when I’m positive and happy. So I want to be positive and happy all the time. I wish I could figure out how to always be peaceful and happy every moment of every day.”

Or I’d think, “I don’t know how so-and-so does it. He/She seems so peaceful/happy/blessed/lucky all the time on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. How is He/She always so happy/magical/overjoyed in His/Her status updates? If only I could be stronger, I could hold onto this kind of happiness/blessedness/unicorn-ness all the time!”

The older I get, the more I have moments of clarity about this kind of happiness and strength. I actually think that true strength doesn’t lie in holding onto smiles and cheer all the time, but in recognizing that feelings come and go in waves. And waves go both up and down.

The other day, I was saying to a friend of mine “I just want to be strong, and I’ve been so happy lately. But today I feel shaken by outside circumstances, and I can’t hold onto the strength I felt yesterday. What do I do?” But as I said it, I realized that in a way I was stronger than ever. And I didn’t really need to do anything. I’ve begun to recognize the waves and ride them, even when they’re occasionally jarring and scary.

Constant happy-joy-joy positivity, especially on social media, annoys me because it seems fake. There’s a notion that ‘putting on a happy face all the time’ is the absolute best thing to do. I don’t really agree.

Not that I think being negative is good. But as I enter my thirties, I think the best spot to be is ‘positive but honest.’ You can still be positive and admit you’re scared. You can still be positive and feel weak. You can still be positive and cry. And you can also be positive and happy.

Life happens. Circumstances outside you happen. It’s okay to admit they get to you sometimes.

Ironically, the more you can ride the low feelings and let them be, the better you’ll ride the high…and the happier you’ll be anyway.

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