Photos, Fomo and Social Media

What is fomo

Fomo stands for Fear Of Missing Out and for some people it is very real. With the development of social media and an online life FOMO is even more real than it would have been before the internet. But jealousy didn’t begin just because Facebook was developed but it has certainly been enhanced. However back in the day what you didn’t know you didn’t know and that was that. Unfortunately, now, there’s so much more space to feel less than—if you let yourself.

When I was a kid

I sat at home on a Friday night and I assumed people were out there living their best life. The good thing was that I didn’t have to see it. I may have heard about it after the fact but even in the retelling of an adventure it had to be the best story told for me to buy into it. I mean, I knew I was that loser kid who didn’t have a social life but no one was rubbing my nose in it either. When I started working I made sure to work weekend evenings so I always had a great excuse for why my life was not ‘fabulous.’

Today, however, you get the play by play of who was there and where they went and how awesome it was. You get the filters and the short video clips. You get the tags and the live streams and the check-ins. Life is super well documented.

Sort of. It’s actually just a perspective.

What about photos

I saw a movie a long time ago. I don’t remember the title or even what it was about but I do remember one scene very clearly where an old farmer type was talking to a woman, someone younger than him—maybe his daughter. I think they were looking at photos in an album. You know the way we used to store our photos—in the old days. He said “photos are the bridges between the struggles” This comment stuck with me more than the film itself. I loved the metaphor—a bridge. Like, life is hard but we tend to document the parts that are not hard—the parts that are celebrations. It made sense. It was like this old farmer fella was saying “Honey, don’t let those photos fool you. There are spaces in everyone’s lives that are not photo worthy, that are difficult and sad.”

Word Grandpa!

Photos today

Social media can feel like a sham because people are living these “fake lives.” Just go to any platform and look up some acquaintances you’ve decided to follow. Look at how much fun they’re having. Look where they are traveling. Look what they are doing and what they are eating. Look how lovey dovey they are. The truth is, (at least according to the scene above that I don’t remember the name of), it (life) is all just moments between the tough stuff, the regular stuff and the grind.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

C. S. Lewis

The other reality

I’m not calling anyone who posts their life, in the way that they post their stories, liars. It’s their life and it is real to them. They get to do it how they want. And I am not the censor of anyone. It’s not my job to tell them how to represent their experience on the web. I’m glad that people see their lives as proverbially half full.

What about the negative stuff

Yeah, what about that? What about all the stuff we see that sucks? Should we post that? Should we post that our significant other dumped us or that a restaurant gave us terrible service or that our friend is an idiot? My opinion? No. That’s for the journal or for a friend over coffee. It’s not for the web. But that’s just me. Personally, I would rather have someone post their awesome life even if it’s a bit enhanced than look into their heavy, whiney, tragic, stuff. Maybe they will inspire me to do something cool or maybe I’ll just enjoy their successful and happy moments with them.

Back to the photos for a minute

When we look at the photos from back in the day with Mom and Dad smiling together holding hands before we were born in front of a Christmas tree or outside at a picnic we don’t know that maybe they had a spat just before that picture was taking or maybe they got some bad news or had stress looking for work or disagreed about the tree topper. We don’t know any of that. We just see the moment. And maybe social media is just an amplified version of that idea.

In any case I try not to live in a state of fomo and I try to focus on my life, not other people. In the end, all I can control is myself.

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