Is Social Media to Blame?
Social media has been vilified as causing negative behavior from increased violence, suicides, and social isolation. Of course in and of itself, social media is not evil, although sometimes we tend to portray it in that light. It is, however, able to ignite fear, insecurity, depression, and envy in a human faster than bytes moving at the speed of light. An often talked about phenomenon—the fear of missing out, or FoMO—occurs when the viewer becomes despondent over their own life or activities when compared with what they are viewing on social media. It is the cyber version of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Individuals have gone so far as to cease enjoying the party they are attending when they see friends on social media enjoying a different activity that does not include them.
FoMO can also take the form of comparing oneself to everyone else—and not favorably. Does is seem like everyone else is going on fabulous vacations? Everyone else is buying a bigger house or fancier car? Is it true that everyone else has children accepted to Harvard or my personal trigger: everyone else’s horse is winning at all the shows at Grand Prix and I’m still wallowing in Training Level. Not true! Although we know it is not true that everyone else lives in Barbie’s Dreamhouse, it sure feels like it sometimes. Comparisons often create toxic emotions and the sense that our life is less than fulfilling.
Here are five key ways to defuse the negative effects of FoMO:
- Reduce Time Spent on Social Media – This one is obvious, but it is also worth noting that FoMO is more likely to hit when we are already sad or feeling inadequate. Schedule time on social media when you have accomplished something or when you are feeling positive and uplifted.
- Count Your Blessings – If you feel your life is not living up to the standards of everyone else’s, you may need to increase your gratitude awareness. Make a list of the things you are thankful for. Take time to conduct a “mental tour” of your life: include your home, your family, your health, your friends, your talents. You may be surprised how you feel afterwards. You can never express too much gratitude over even the small things in life.
- Set Your Own Goals – Examine what you want to achieve or what you want out of life and go after it. Chances are your goals and desires are very different from everyone else’s, and that’s great! You’ll be headed out on your own journey in life, not tagging along on someone else’s trip.
- Live in the Moment – Take time to enjoy where you are and who you are with instead of rushing to the next event, the next item on your to-do list, or the next opportunity. Mindfulness, meditation, being present—all these things help slow us down and help us appreciate what we have.
- Reward Yourself – So, you didn’t win the race or get the big book deal but you did achieve a goal you set out for yourself. Don’t wait for something huge in order to reward yourself. Give a present to yourself and don’t wait for outside recognition.
Further Reading on FoMO and What to Do
The FoMO effects along with various means of dealing with it have been described in scholarly journals. Psychology Today had a post on FoMO and I was gratified to see that many of their recommendations mirrored mine. Shankar Vendantam on National Public Radio (NPR) did an excellent examination of the phenomenon of FoMO, pointing out that increased social media activity is actually causing greater isolation. Check out the podcast.
Remember, the social media world is not real. Live a REAL life!
I am anxiously awaiting your book, The Horse Gods, and any other equestrian related books you may write. Since I retired as a Family Nurse Practitioner, I have been reading a lot and you are one of the best I have read. I love your emotions, especially with the horses. Your characters are very real. Your story line was very good. Leaves your readers waiting for more. The False Gods was published in 2014. Please give us more! Thanks very much.
Dear Mary Farley – I was so thrilled to receive your note and now doubly encouraged to get the sequel, Horse Gods, out as soon as possible. You have no idea what it means to a writer to hear from a fan who has such kind words of inspiration. Yes, False Gods came out in 2014 and it has been a while! Stay tuned, it is coming out with a new cover to be followed by Horse Gods hopefully by Autumn. I am finishing up the first draft and it is a wild ride. Horse Gods deals with the issue of trust. It is told from Regina’s point of view, just as her mother, Angela, is due to be released from prison. It touches on many contemporary issues, revolves around a mystery, and is set in the dressage world. I certainly hope you’ll enjoy it. I’ll let people know when it’s coming out. Please keep in touch!!