The Fear of Missing Out

Image via The Hamster Factor's Flickr photostream

Sometimes great things happen. House parties turn out to be far more awesome that you’d hoped they’d be, that cabaret show ends up being an absolute belter, and a few quiet drinks with friends somehow becomes the best night out you’ve had in a very long time. Years ago, this stuff happened and then you’d tell your mates over drinks the following week whilst wearing your excited face, so they’d be happy for you. These days, you live tweet what an awesome time you’re having and upload the photos to Facebook the instant you get home, which leaves your friends thinking… I wish I’d been there.

Fear of missing out is a very real thing and it’s been made a whole lot worse by social media. Much as you want your friends to be having fun, hearing about it all the time just makes you wonder if you should have been there. Maybe I should have gone to that party? Why wasn’t I invited? Why did I leave before it got good? All of these feelings crop up and then it starts making you feel a teeny bit paranoid about the social life of pretty much everyone else you know.

The reality of it is that no one is having quite as much fun as they appear to be. Well, not all the time anyway. People tell you about the parts of a party that were really awesome, but they won’t tell you about the two hours that they spent talking to that one really dull person who didn’t take the hint. The photos will show that everyone looked amazing and was having a great time but, chances are, they won’t have uploaded all the crappy shots where everyone looked drunk and half asleep. It’s so easy, when you’re confronted with every tiny detail of your friends’ social lives via Twitter and Facebook, to assume that absolutely everyone is having more fun than you. However, assume nothing. People will say pretty much anything to look cool.

Main image via The Hamster Factor‘s Flickr photostream. Other image by lipsticklori.

7 Discussion to this post

  1. Katie says:

    Huh. I'd never really thought of it that way. I feel a little better now. It is far too easy to wonder why you're hardly ever invited to things, though :/

  2. Kitty says:

    Ah, Fomo the clown. I get visits from Fomo a lot… people I consider friends I suddenly realize don't invite me to spend time, or don't message me… I've had to separate actual friends for “people I say hi to at parties”. That helps. I don't feel popular though, and there's always stuff I wish I was cool enough to be invited to.

  3. lipsticklori says:

    @Katie – Often it's the way things are described that leave me feeling left out. I sometimes find that people refer to something like “The Fairy Tale Party” on Twitter, but then it turns out to be a private party run by people I don't really know. Or folk have met up at a pub and it turns out it was a completely open invite that I had missed on my feed, so I should have just asked rather than sulking. Sometimes private stuff is talked about like it's public and vice versa. Also, I have to remind myself that I don't actually want/need to go to *everything* :-)

    @Kitty – You are so right! I hate the way Facebook calls your connections 'friends' as so many of them just aren't. In addition, the thing about the 'cool kids' is that they're never really as much like mini-celebrities as you think. After all, some people think I'm cool when I'm actually the same slightly shy geek I was at school… only better dressed ;-)

  4. Gordon says:

    The really funny thing is just HOW MUCH FUN we are ALL HAVING this week on TWITTER!

    Is it because you aren't there? Is coincidence? You will never know!!

    But the Facebook thing is a good example, I have few friends, many acquaintances. If my friends leave me out I feel a bit miffed, if my acquaintances leave me out, it's not such a big deal.

    Good advice though, people will tend to post the things that reflect their overall mood at the time of posting, I do it all the time.

  5. lipsticklori says:

    You're having fun on Twitter without me? I HATE YOU ALL! *sulks*

  6. (I love that you used that photo!) ;)

    As much as I love social media (*takes a moment to hug her laptop*) in many ways it's becoming the bain of my social life. For one, I am often fooled into a sense of being more sociable than I really am! I also find it causes people to put less effort into giving or receiving invitations to things. Often you end up feeling left out, or neglected, and it's usually not down to people not caring, but people just not having to put in quite so much effort.

    Just like I have to explain to my Dad that I DON'T drink that much, it's just that he only ever sees Facebook photos from parties… I regularly have to remind myself that the people who post about their exciting lives AREN'T posting about the moments when they're at home in their PJs, eating cereal and feeling pretty left out.

  7. lipsticklori says:

    I *love* that photo! I do remember going on about that party a fair bit on Twitter/Facebook though, which must have been really sucky for anyone who wasn't there :-/

    Social media not only makes us look more sociable than we are but, yes, it makes us feel it too. I find I say yes to more things because I am aware of there being more thengs to do. Then I find myself exhausted and/or ill due to a bad case of Doing Too Much.

    Also, you're so right about people rarely broadcasting that they're happily (or not) having a quiet night in :-)

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