YOLO, Don’t Bow to FOMO!


By Helen Gore
on 03 March, 2017

Share this post

Is Social Media Taking over our lives?

YOLO, Don’t Bow to FOMO!

(Or for the oldies; ‘You Only Live Once’, don’t bow to ‘Fear of Missing Out’!)

I caught myself checking my Facebook account for the umpteenth time today. Not to mention waiting for the two blue ticks to appear so I knew my friend had seen my WhatsApp and of course she must have been doing something exciting as she hadn’t checked her phone for ages.

I’m a relative social media luddite; I confess I now only have a Facebook account as I closed down my twitter and Instagram and never did get my head around Snapchat, but I still find myself checking in with my social media more often than I’d care to admit.

I catch myself thinking I must be the dullest and most uninteresting person in my friendship group as everyone else appears to be having these amazing experiences and eating at the most exciting places. However, it appears that I am not the only one…

Nothing new, just easier to do

Being nosey about what others are doing, comparing ourselves to others, checking out how our lives compare, is nothing new. Psychology calls this social comparison theory: we judge our own social and personal status based on how we compare to others. However, social media can magnify this comparison due the ease of access and volume of information out there.

Boy looking sad in fieldSome research highlights that there is a correlation between high usage of social media and feeling despondent, unhappy, and maybe even depressed.

High use of social media could be affecting your mental wellbeing.

Narrowing your focus

Further to this, the role of social media in promoting fake news and creating a social media ‘bubble’ could also be limiting your views of the world. With real news and fake news being promoted in the same way on social media, it is becoming more difficult to tell fact from fiction.

Coupled with our desires for our views to be validated, fake news and social media algorithms show us more of what we like in our news feeds and could be narrowing our views of the world.

In other words, showing us more of what we already like and not exposing us to differing opinions, experiences, and broadening our world view.

Listen: Bursting the Social Network Bubble

YOLO, don’t bow to FOMO!

I am not waving a flag for switching off our smart phones and boycotting social media, as the positives can outweigh the negatives. I am promoting good mental health by taking what you see online with a pinch of salt, as social media allows individuals, as well as the algorithms, to control what you see, to create a skewed version of themselves, a self-propaganda of their lives.

More than that I’m promoting getting out there, connecting with others face-to-face, creating your own experiences and not worrying about the Insta-post, the Facebook photo-op, or the number of likes others will give you.

There are lots of suggestions about what you can do to reduce your time on social media:

  • Delete the apps from your phone – Having the apps make it fast and easy to access social media and check out what others are doing. This ease can increase the frequency that you check your social media accounts. Remove the apps, from your phone, and only log in using another device.
  • Switch off/change notifications – Alerts, vibrations, little red bubbles drawing your attention to your social media, are competing for your attention and drawing you away from the real world. Switch them off or reduce what you get alerts for and you may be able to go longer without looking at your phone.
  • Timer – Set a time limit, this may save you from being pulled into a Facebook black-hole where a ‘quick check’ turns into over an hour of Facebook stalking.
  • Get an alarm clock – One of the best tips I’ve come across, most of us use of phones as our alarms so our phones are the first things we look at in the morning which means we notice any notifications and get drawn into checking our social media accounts.
  • Contact your friends in different ways – Send a birthday card, an email, phone them, these methods are more personal and will foster deeper friendships than likes and status tags.
  • Make plans and get out – Be it with friends or on your own, get out and experience the world, stop worrying about what others are up to and experience it yourself.

Want to read more?

If you enjoyed this blog, and found it helpful, or if you would like to share your own tips for staying safe and healthy using social media, leave us a comment below.

Also, make sure you check out our other Blogs for Young People.

Leave a Comment

* Indicates a required field