There’s a darker side to social media, so says the New York Times in “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.” The writer reveals a phenomenon known as FOMO, aka “Fear of Missing Out,” or the anxiety one might feel when comparing one’s friends’ and colleagues’ lives to one’s own. In short, it’s the digital version of Keeping Up With the Joneses.
Except you can see where the Joneses went on a fabulous vacation and where they had an expensive dinner and that they got promoted at work and more people wished them happy birthday on their Facebook wall and and and and…screw them.
Social media may not create these psychological issues, but it makes them a hell of a lot worse.
I can speak from personal experience. I could write a book about how my personal relationships have been affected, for better or for worse, by social media. Having come of age alongside social media trailblazers like Facebook, MySpace, and before that, Melo (anyone remember that?), I think my neuroses have taken an MLB-sized shot of steroids over the years, just from scrutinizing my own online “image,” and how it must be perceived by others. But I won’t get into details.
As if we didn’t have enough material to torture ourselves with: coworkers who have moved on to better jobs, and old friends who seem to have more degrees, more money, and more contentment than us. Because even though everyone knows social media content is carefully curated to make you look happier, richer, or thinner, we just can’t deal with the idea that someone has it better than us, or IS better than us.
Anyone have Mark Zuckerberg’s address? I’d like to send him my therapy bill.