There’s no doubt that we are all collectively missing out on something as a result of the pandemic. Whether it be a semester and a half at college, seeing friends and family, or trips and events, we’ve all lost time that we’ll never get back.
I’m sure almost everyone knows the term “FOMO,” or fear of missing out. You’d think that, during COVID-19 when everyone is missing out on something and there’s basically nothing to do, FOMO wouldn’t be much of an issue, but in my experience, my FOMO has gotten so much worse.
About a month and a half ago I decided to delete most of my social media apps from my phone. I had watched the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” which successfully terrified me and made me more aware of the power technology holds over me. I also deleted social media because it’s a distraction from my schoolwork, so I thought I’d become more productive.
At this point, I hadn’t really felt too much FOMO from scrolling through Instagram or tapping through Snapchat stories. I was more concerned about my relationship with technology in general, not so much about feeling jealous or down. Not to mention, prior to this point in the pandemic, everyone was in the same boat.
When quarantine began, social media was used as a way to cure boredom. People started passing around “challenges” that filled the feeds of just about everyone’s Instagrams. It became a joke how everyone binge-watched Tiger King and made whipped coffee, which thanks to Tik Tok, was consumed by the gallon.
There was a sense of togetherness at the beginning of quarantine; a silver lining on this mess of a situation. But now, that warm fuzzy feeling of togetherness has faded into darkness. People have started to go their own ways, not being able to stand being cooped up for so long. For college students, this disconnect in experience is even more prevalent.
Some colleges are holding in-person classes, some aren’t. Some students are choosing to live away from home and work remotely, others have been home for months. No two college students are having the same experience, which only exacerbates the isolation we find ourselves in.
Since we are all no longer on the same page, the urge to compare myself and my situation to others has increased 10-fold.
I constantly wonder what my friends are doing away at school. I wonder if they’re happier than I am and if they’ll look back on this semester and see the same thing I do: lost time.
Sometimes I log back on Instagram to check direct messages and I’ll see photos of smiling faces, of people doing fun activities and being with their friends. I know enough about social media from my own experience and the experiences of others to know that a post is certainly not an accurate reflection of how someone is feeling.
This begs the question, Why are we still pretending that everything is OK when it obviously isn’t?
I understand feeling the need to prove happiness when we’re not in a pandemic and the possibilities of activities and social gatherings and trips are endless. But we went from using social media as a way to poke fun at our boredom and sadness back to proving that we’re somehow happier than everyone else.
Maybe social media and focusing on missing out on the little things is a distraction from thinking about missing out on the big things. Or maybe we’ve become masters of artificial happiness and just can’t pass up the opportunity to out-smile someone else. Either way, our sense of community is lost, and I fear that as the pandemic goes on, the more isolated we will all become. I know it’s never advised to wallow in self-pity, but I think we’re all in need of a little honesty right now.