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The Other FOMO
By spending your limited time scrolling through endless feeds, you’re missing out on other things. Now.
The biggest roadblock to freeing oneself from the toxic environments of social media is FOMO. It’s an unavoidable step, and one some people won’t be ready for, or even recognize that it’s preventing them.
“I don’t have a fear of quitting” they may say, “I just have [this thing] on [a platform] and I don’t want to lose it.”
That’s still FOMO. With social media the good stuff and the bad stuff come together as a single package. Increasing numbers of people are beginning to feel that their time spent on social media is net-negative, meaning the downsides of spending time there (like stress and mental health) outweigh the positives. (If you find that the positives outweigh the negatives for you, then stop reading this and go live your life without worrying so damn much!) FOMO is real, and if you quit, you will miss out on some things. It’s likely those things will turn out to not be that big of a deal, but there’s no guarantee. You’ll have to build the confidence within yourself that something will fill the void of free time left behind.
If you’re not confident enough, or don’t feel that you have what it takes to fill your time with something else, there’s a perspective I’d like you to consider first…
Imagine you’re someone who has already quit, or possibly someone who has never had social media. What does the average day of someone without Instagram/Reddit/etc consist of? Possibly stuff like book reading? Volunteer work? Sports? Cooking? Video games? Hanging out with friends smoking weed?
Now imagine you’re out there living your life, doing these activities you enjoy and find rewarding, when it crosses your mind to maybe sign up for a social media account. Now, social media can be mindless but it still takes time. Time away from other things. What will you give up to be on Facebook? Because the truth is you’ll have to give up something. There’s only so much time in the day.
There’s a different kind of FOMO. The kind from the “other side”. There are things you’re missing out on now. What are those things and which is it you’re more afraid of missing out on? Social media or the other activities?
It’s easy to assume (and oft-repeated) “I will have more quality time and more meaningful experiences if I quit social media” and it’s good advice! You almost certainly will. But also try to take a moment to visualize yourself a year in the future after separating yourself from the toxicity of the platforms. What are those experiences you’ve been up to? What are you doing with your time? But most importantly: What are you afraid you’d miss out on if you were to commit more of your time time to social media?
When you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling, try to remember that person -your potential future self- and consider, what it is that they are missing out on. What is it they’re afraid of missing out on? Is it the same thing as you?
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