Edit Desk: Facing FOMO


My name’s Jamie, and I have a confession to make. It’s cringey and embarrassing, but I think it’s time to come clean. I suffer from FOMO – the fear of missing out.  

No, it’s not the kind of condition that comes with physical ailments. There’s no accompanying rash, no deep cough and certainly no fever. Just an irrational, and completely unnecessary, pit in the stomach. 

For those less familiar, FOMO is essentially the constant worry that people are having a good time without you. While it’s a fun abbreviation, the feeling is far from it. 

And social media has only made it worse. 

Prior to social media, I’d be able to make a decision and feel confident in that choice. If I wanted to go out to dinner, I’d go. If I wanted to stay in bed and binge watch a TV show all night, I’d rest. And if I wanted to eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked in one sitting? I’d grab a spoon.    

Now, I’m constantly seeing what “else” is out there even when I don’t want to know. 

People are eager to post the most glorified versions of their lives, regardless of how edited and filtered they are. 

Our generation is often so focused on capturing the perfect moment for our followers that we forget to enjoy the experience. We sometimes value looking like we’re having fun more than actually having it. 

And I’m guilty of it, too. 

I’ve come to realize that, while catchy, the expression “pics or it didn’t happen” is incredibly toxic. 

Apps like Snapchat allow for constant communication, while BeReal encourages users to stop what they’re doing and share live photos. I know when people are eating breakfast, when they’re watching Netflix and sometimes even when they’re using the bathroom.

At this point, it’s almost harder not to know what my friends are doing at any given moment. 

Anyone reading this rant may suggest the obvious: don’t check your phone. While this solution is foolproof in theory, we all know it’s unrealistic. I’m an iPhone addict through and through. 

Constantly seeing my friends’ “cool” and “exciting” social media posts leads me to contemplate whether my own plans are interesting enough. 

If I choose to spend a night in, I can’t escape the endless stream of posts reminding me of all I’m missing out on. If I choose to go out, I’ll be constantly reminded of the “relaxing movie night” I passed up. 

It often feels like a lose-lose situation. Regardless of my decision, I’m going to be missing out on something

Of course, I know I’m being dramatic. 

Foregoing one party won’t kill me, and passing up a movie night with my roommates won’t either. I know my friends won’t simply forget about me if they don’t see me for an hour or two, nor will I miss out on the creation of life-long memories. Even so, making these choices stresses me out. 

As I begin my final year at Lehigh, I’m starting to realize the absurdity of it all. I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that not every night needs to be the best one of my life and accepting that people can (and will) have fun without me. 

Sometimes I’ll make a choice, and sometimes it will be the wrong one. Perhaps I would have had more fun if I’d gone with the other option. 

But the fact of the matter is, I’ll never be able to predict that, and that’s OK. 

To be clear, I am most definitely not saying I’ve figured it all out. 

I‘m still dealing with FOMO as I type this, contemplating what I’ll do tomorrow night and how I’ll spend the upcoming weekend. I still jump at the chance to grab a bagel with my friends at Johnny’s, despite hardly being hungry, simply because I don’t want to miss out. Slightly pathetic, I will admit. 

Maybe I’m actually writing this to get the message across to myself.

But as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I’m learning not to stress the small stuff. Minor decisions are by no means make or break, and missing a party isn’t the end of the world. 

It’s important to embrace my choices and enjoy the moment, regardless of what my other friends and “followers” are doing.

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