Follow Me on PinterestFollow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Do you suffer from FOMO?

Recently, when chatting to a friend, he described one of his work colleagues as having "chronic FOMO". I looked back at him with a puzzled look on my face. "Well you know,'' he replied matter-of-factly, ''Fear- Of- Missing- Out". After a swift bit of research, it would appear this phrase has been a part of modern parlance for the last few years. So what is "FOMO" and what can we do about it?

FOMO is defined as the feeling of anxiety of missing out on something, the notion that someone somewhere is having a better time than you and is consequently, happier.  This feeling can manifest in a social media addiction, a desperation to attend any gathering/event at whatever personal cost or (as in my friend's colleague's case) as an over-eagerness to be involved in every discussion or meeting. 

Think about it, how many times have you seen groups of people sat round a table in a bar or a restaurant, all staring incessantly at their phone screens?  Or been mid-conversation with someone when their phone pings so they stop to check it?  Technology has advanced incredibly over the past few decades, bringing around many positive changes, but the danger of 'over-connecting' to social media is ever more present.
Let's take a look at some basic social networks statistics.

  • Facebook has an estimated 1.4 billion users and 47% of internet users are on Facebook.
  • Twitter has 284 million active users, 88% of those users are through the mobile phone app. 500 million tweets are sent per day.
  • Instagram (which is in fact, owned by Facebook) has 300 million users and 70 million photos and videos are sent daily.
This is all without even including Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr and Google +. In addition to this, it is reported that 15-19 year olds spend an average of 3 hours each day on social media and 20-29 year olds spend 2 hours on their respective social media accounts. 28% of Iphone users check their Twitter feed before getting up in the morning. 

So why are we becoming so anxious about our social media accounts?

I think most people would recognise that social media can breed envy of other people's lives. At times, social networking can seem like a constant competition of who can appear the most happy. However, I have seen photos of friends and their boyfriends on Facebook, only to later discover that they are unhappy in the relationship or that their partner has been cheating on them. The same expectations vs reality applies to other photos of food, holidays, families etc.... 
Photos in all their filtered glory, do not tell the whole story.

Let's be honest, fear of missing out stems from our own insecurities and the misguided belief that other people are out there having happier, more fulfilling experiences.  This insecurity sadly means that people fail to recognise their personal worth and their individual achievements. The irony is that when people have this fear of missing out, the anxiety and low self-worth can stop them from actually achieving what they want, be that a more prominent position in their workplace or a dream holiday.

I recently watched a powerful talk by (UNC Chapel Hill student) Bobby Mook on the subject of FOMO and he had an interesting theory which resonated with me.  FOMO comes from our anxiety about our significance in life, we are attempting to answer one of life's big questions:  
Why are we here?
This can be broken down into:
Will I be remembered?
Will anything I accomplish be important to anyone?
Am I loved?  
Am I significant?

It is unlikely that we will overcome our fear of missing out, but we should try to recognise what this fear is really telling us.  Where is it coming from? Our fear can guide us to make better decisions which could lead us to our own personal happiness, whether that be in our relationships with friends, family or partners or our careers.

Don't let FOMO get the better of you, do what makes you happy :)

The TED talk I mentioned, which inspired me to write this article:

Peebreeks xx


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Getting older

This week I will turn thirty.  Thirty. I know.  To anyone under thirty, it sounds scary doesn't it?

A few months ago, someone started mentioning my birthday and asking me what I might like.  I hadn't given it any thought as at that point, in my head, my birthday was still months away. Suddenly, I became acutely aware of my impending birthday and it's fair to say that I began to freak out; the more I thought about my upcoming birthday, the more I wished that it wasn't happening. This is particularly unusual as I have always loved birthdays; a great day each year when you get to celebrate with loved ones and friends, doing your favourite things. What's not to like?!

I started to panic that I hadn't achieved a lot of the things that I had hoped to do by this age; relationships, marriage, children, houses, travel etc.  Milestones that, in all honesty, I had set for myself, in my own head. Okay, there may be certain societal expectations but who really dictates these? Who actually checks to see whether you've achieved these? It's scary to realise that the only person responsible for these feelings of insignificance or disappointment is actually oneself. Societal expectations and social norms are constantly evolving; how many articles have you seen recently talking about the impossibility of buying houses/people living at home/ people living together without being married etc?

We often read about the detrimental effects of social media and I think it's true that it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Frequently, we update photos, statuses and posts and inadvertently bombard ourselves with updates of other people's lives: where they have travelled, who has got engaged/married, who has children, who has bought a house.  It doesn't take much for a unconfident person to start wondering why those things aren't happening for them. I felt like I had wasted my twenties; wasted time in the wrong relationships, working in the wrong places, living with the wrong people.  This delightfully pessimistic attitude led me to foolishly overlook all the fantastic people I have met, wonderful places I have travelled to, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and numerous achievements I've had in my twenties. Furthermore, I'm ashamed to admit that this feeling consumed me for a number of weeks, until a number of things dawned on me.

Firstly, that it is extremely pointless to get hung up on age.  It sounds so simple, but age is something which is completely beyond our control. Everyone ages, no-one can avoid it or prevent it from happening, no matter how hard they try! Secondly, some people think I look younger than I am, so maybe (hopefully) I could ride out on at least appearing youthful for a few more years! 'Age is just a number' and all that. It struck me that when I wake up on Friday, I will feel the same way, look the same way and act the same way, so is a new number really all that bad??!

Lastly and most importantly, I started to really consider and value where I am in my life now; the incredible experiences and opportunities that I've had and the hard-hitting lessons that I've learnt along the way. I've been extremely fortunate in a lot of ways but I also remember the tougher times.  Unfortunately, a few of my friends didn't make it to their early twenties so I really should be thankful to still be here at all.

No-one has a perfect life and when you start to see the bigger picture and think about all the dreadful and unfortunate things that are happening to people all over the world every single day, you begin to realise that you actually shouldn't worry or complain about turning older.  It seems to me that most of us are pretty lucky. At the risk of sounding preachy, I think it's important to recognise how fortunate we really are to be alive.  So after a seemingly trivial mini-meltdown about the state of my life at this age, I came to realise that I have my health, family and friends, a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes on my back and a great job. To be quite truthful, I am privileged to be here, and every day (including the dreaded birthdays) that I spend on earth is more than some people get. When you take a step back and think about age that way, it's not worth complaining any more.  But we will, because we're only human after all...

I recently discovered this quote pinned on a noticeboard at work:

'If you woke up this morning healthy ... you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the fear and loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pain of starvation ... you are better off than 500 million people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are more comfortable than 75% of the people in this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. If you can read this, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.'

Peebreeks xx