I recently learned the term FOMO. Typical of my nature, not knowing what this meant killed me! I had to know because, well, just because I had to. Ironically, this is exactly what FOMO means - Fear Of Missing Out. It made me sit back and look at life, where we are, how we live it, what motivates us, where we seek approval, what affirms us. Without delving into anything too deep, and yes, I am generalising, but for most of us the simple (and not-so-shocking!) answer, is Social Media. I- we - live with such a FOMO, that the radiply escalating trend of social networking has become the norm rather than the exception.
Between my Blackberry, Ipad and Computer I have Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, Uber Social for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, apps on my ipad dedicated to pinging me when anything genuinely newsworthy happens (CNN, Media 24, BBC etc) and a hord of blog links that I regularly follow. And none of these is neglected! As soon as something mildly interesting happens (and embarressingly, its often only newsworth to a select few who are directly involved in my everyday life) - its on facebook; snap a pic of my weekend activities (because of course everyone wants to see yet another picture of my kids!!) - its on facebook; a glib observation (or sometimes passive aggressive jibe) - its on twitter; a divine (or mediocre - being selective is not important) meal out - picture on twitter with the accompanying hashtag #tweetwhatyoueat; my kids do well at school / on the sports field / survive a weekend of parental inflicted boredom (*blush*), the whole cyber world is alerted via one or all of these means.
I am admitting to my dependency, my FOMO, when it comes to social media. And I am not alone in my behaviour or mindset. I have friends (too many to name and shame!), who update their BBM status, profile pics, and Facebook status more often than you can click refresh!! Its mind boggling! There is very little that is private and discreet anymore. We "check in" when we go out, post photos of any and every event in our day (we even doctor these pics to be kinder to ourselves - thanks Instagram!), we vent, we rant, we disparage, we preach, we divulge - from a platform of relative security, often forgetting or dismissing the fact that once we hit send or post or update, its in cyberspace FOREVER. I recall a pin on Pinterest stating something along the lines of "just imagine, all of this would be in peoples heads if Facebook didn't exist!" How true is that!
In my (admittidly social media obssessed) opinion, we use these platforms as some form of escapism. Its what we do while real life happens. Its an outlet. Pinterest is a wonderful example - our boards reflect homes and designs we don't have, clothes we desire (all displayed on bodies we pine for!), food we probably never cook, craft that we in all likely hood will never master (although pinning it makes us feel like we have used our creative outlet well!), places we dream of going should we ever win the lotto. Not much about pinterest is reality, yet it is one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there. And its addictive (I highly recommend it!).
We are not insular beings, and the web connects us like no family tree ever could. It keeps us in touch with those we would have lost years ago (and unfortunately, if we are not selective enough, opens up our world to those we WISHED we had lost years ago!!). It is largely for this reason that I refuse to quit social networking. I need it - I NEED to know who's done what with their lives, who is getting married, having kids, doing amazing things - even though they are a million miles away. And I NEED to share (I am a sharer by nature).
As long as social networking does not replace real life, does not hurt or harm, is used for good and not evil, and does not distract us from what is important, I believe it has a place in my world. I will continue to brag about my kids, tweet about my life, Pin my way to a creative fantasy world. FOMO works for us in a lot of ways - it keeps us on our toes, keeps us moving forward. If it wasn't for my FOMO, and a very good friend convincing me that smart phones were way better than my old nokia, I would still have cell phone bills that could rival a small office park! FOMO keeps us striving for the next best thing. And I don't want to get left behind. I'm Just Saying...