In light of “Bell: Let’s Talk Day” comes a reminder that fear of missing out (FOMO) is #stillreal
Nina Grossman, News Editor
For me, it usually hits around 3:00 AM. A cold sweat, racing thoughts and rushes of adrenaline wake me up, or keep me up in the first place. I can scrutinize every decision I have ever made. I can re-live every conversation that ended even slightly awkwardly. On the worst nights, I reach a point somewhere close to delusion. “Does anybody really like me?” “Am I even a good writer?” “Am I ever going to get a job?” “What’s due tomorrow?”
That’s my anxiety: Irrational, persistent and nocturnal.
I’ve always been an over-thinking mess of unfounded insecurities, but in recent years, my anxiety has reached new heights. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
How many times have you, as a student, gone through the list of things you needed to tackle in your mind and decided to lay in bed and binge watch The Office instead?
We talk about this kind of behavior jokingly, between self-deprecating memes about unproductivity and poor health choices (see @betches on Instagram) to just general conversations about our stress levels and lack of showering. Don’t get me wrong; I have bonded with numerous people upon learning that we were under-achievers in areas like waking up before 10 and exercising on the reg.
More seriously though, perhaps this attitude from students and young people indicates something deeper. Maybe it’s a cultural reaction to the notion that we should all be achieving A’s while volunteering, having great social lives, working, networking, exercising, eating healthy, working on our beach bodies and carving a path for our future careers. HA.
Maybe it’s because some people make it all look easy. These are the same people whose Instagram accounts are full of white linen, macarons, lattes and #OOTD tags on their perfect fresh out of Aritzia outfit posts. I have to call bullshit on these people. They get pimples and B grades and relationship problems just like the rest of us. But hey, it’s not a crime to have a Dote-worthy Instagram account. And I would be lying if I said that I didn’t curate my own pictures (it usually takes about 10 tries before I get my cat in the right pose.)
Most of us are familiar with the term FOMO (fear of missing out… for those who just got out from under their rocks or haven’t been fortunate enough to watch Broad City.) FOMO itself is old news, but its effects are thriving. FOMO doesn’t just apply to the pictures that bombard you on Facebook after missing a night out with friends. And those are always the nights that result in everlasting inside jokes that you will half-heartedly laugh at but never fully understand. FOMO applies to general life shit too.
Remember that girl from high school? Well now you can take a quick peek at her account and find out that she just got accepted to law school and just got back from a year in South America with her girlfriend and aren’t they cute and living life large in all their perfect Ludwig-filtered photos on the beach?
You can be attacked by images of a perfect life before you even get out of bed in the morning. Instagram has given us the impression that our lives are comparable to others by only looking at the tiniest little sliver of how they really live.
For people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression social media is an enormous pill to swallow. As undergraduate students we stand on the precipice of an overwhelming amount of decisions– the last thing we need is more confusion and ambiguity in the form of Insta-envy.
Social media will never paint a picture of reality– it is, first and foremost, a marketing tool. Corporations and companies use it to market their products and now people use it to market themselves; in all their filtered, gym-going, selfie glory.
My advice? Let people inspire you, but remember that you are your own unique snowflake and you are always going to be more than an Instagram photo. It’s who you are offline that defines you. You are imperfect and you will not succeed at everything and that is 100 per cent okay.
The Instagram fairies of the world that seem impossibly photogenic and organized and have the best lighting in their apartments…(like do I live in a dungeon?) experience failure and struggle with motivation too. They’re just a lot better at arranging bookshelves and getting their boyfriends to take selfies with them against brick walls that give off a perfect “vintage vibe. “
So you can either (gasp!) delete your Instagram, or you can learn how to be a smart consumer of social media. As you stand on the edge of right now and the rest of your life, look to your friends and family for guidance (IRL of course.) Look to your heart even! (ugh sorry.) But do not look to Instagram or other social media outlets that misrepresent life. Life is messy and complicated and sometimes not all that cute. Truth be told? I like it better that way.
If you or someone you know if experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, MRU has resources for you. Go to https://mtroyal.ca/CampusServices/WellnessServices/ for information on student counseling.