Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
I first heard the phrase “FOMO” the summer before I was about to start university. I just thought it would be one of those overused phrases that would pass in time, or at least until the next “triggered” or “YOLO” took hold. However, I think that the fear of missing out has a huge impact on the mental health of people, especially university students, and whilst I’m not an expert on the topic I can speak from my own personal experience with this.
Before university, I was told that it was going to be the most amazing time and that I’ll make friends for life with the people I meet in halls. Although I can now say that I’m truly enjoying my university experience, that was not the case during my first or second semester of first year. I didn’t become close friends with those I lived with and I did not really know anyone else, so I felt alone. As I did not have people to go out with, I began to feel as though I wasn’t having the university experience that, according to Instagram, everyone else was. I found myself stalking social media each night to see what other people were up to and I became consumed by jealousy of them. I began to put too much pressure on certain people and pushed others away, my logic being that if no one was around me then I wouldn’t be missing out. I know now that I was not the only person going through this, but at the time I truly felt I was the exception to the normal university student.
Why is this so important? This may only be my story, but you can see the impact social media has on the fear of missing out all the time. Seeing people going out whilst you’re stuck in for whatever reason can lead to a feeling of being excluded and alone. This is not inherently bad, and everyone will encounter some sort of FOMO from time to time. It’s simply not possible to be able to attend every social gathering that you get invited to. However, I believe that the combination of social media and the fear of missing out can seriously harm our mental well-being.
What is the solution to this? You cannot exactly stop people who are having a good time from posting about it online and I would not want to! Although social media can do some harm, it can also be a nice way of remembering a great night out. What we need to do is to make sure people are aware that the lives depicted on Snap-chat, Instagram or Facebook are not necessarily reflective of the truth. Whilst this makes logical sense for the likes of the Kardashians, people tend to forget that ordinary people, like you or I, also present the best and most interesting versions of themselves on social media. Despite knowing this I still let myself fall into the vicious cycle of checking my news feed and working myself up over feeling like I was missing out. Just make sure to check in on your friends, especially if they start to isolate themselves. I was lucky enough to find some amazing people that helped me see that not everyone is living their best life all the time – despite what you see on social media.