I spend way too much time on social media. Every minute of down time I have to check what’s happening on Facebook, and I’m starting to feel that it runs my life. I should just cancel my account, but I get anxious when I even think about cutting back. I know it isn’t making me happier, and it’s probably adding to depression, since everyone’s life seems more fun and more successful than mine. Should I just give it up or is there a way to be part of it without it running my life? Also how can I be on it without feeling worse about myself?
You probably have what is now being called FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out. A recent JWT survey said 70 percent of adults have FOMO, and it causes a serious amount of stress and anxiety. Researchers at Edinburgh University said that one out of 10 Facebook users admit the site makes them anxious (and they feel an unhealthy amount of pressure to come up with inventive status updates and stay up to date on everyone's lives). But in spite of all of this, most people refuse to cancel their accounts.
Facebook also makes many people feel depressed and inadequate. A study conducted by two German Universities found that Facebook created envy and an unhealthy level of social comparison in many users — yet we can’t stop looking at it.
Most of us started using Facebook because we wanted to stay connected with other people, but now it feels like a competition where we must constantly prove our value and define our existence. There is no doubt life would be less stressful if you canceled your social media accounts. You would get more done and spend less time comparing yourself with others, but we all get why you can’t do it. You might miss something — and the fear of loss is a powerful force.
The fear of missing out might show up in other areas of life, too. It may compel you to record every episode of your favorite show so you don’t miss it, even though your life would go on just fine if you missed it. You may buy things you don’t need if there is an amazing price for a limited time. You might even struggle with ordering in a restaurant, because you are afraid you might miss out on whatever you decide not to get. You may stay uncommitted on your weekend plans, because you want to check all the options before you commit. You might struggle with making all kinds of simple decisions because every choice means missing out on the other options.
This fear could also cause problems in your relationships. You may hesitate to marry this girl or that boy, because you might miss out on someone better who could come along later. But, if you don’t marry that person and decide to wait for a better one, you might regret that and wish you’d taken this one. (This is FOMO at work, and it can create anxiety everywhere!)
Here are a couple suggestions for easing FOMO and having a healthier mindset about social media:
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.