“Time to check my newsfeed this morning.” That is one of my first thoughts as I roll out of my bed in the morning. Scrolling through the page, pictures of what people did the previous weekend take over the screen. “They got to go clubbing in LA? How did these Facebook friends meet fill-in-celebrity’s-name?” Of course, this is a bit of an exaggeration; usually the majority of these pictures and statuses are of some classmates who go out to a normal 5C party or event, but make it look like they had way more fun than I did. “They look like they are having so much fun” and “I wish I was doing that” are common sentiments that I am sure many of us have felt while scrolling through our Facebook or Twitter feeds.
FOMO, or more explicitly, the “fear of missing out,” is a problem that I believe each student has had at least once during their undergraduate experience. Scrolling through our Facebook newsfeeds and other social media outlets definitely perpetuate this feeling. Although our many social media websites and external media influences make it seem like we are not living our college life to the fullest and perpetuates an epidemic of FOMO on college campuses, I believe that the majority of us are not missing out on much, if anything, at all.
I’m from Nebraska, where it seems like not a lot of exciting things really happen, especially when compared to living so close to Los Angeles now. Coming to Claremont for college, I felt this immediate need to do absolutely everything. I had absurd expectations that I was going to go to the ocean weekly, meet stars whenever I set foot in LA, and be able to go to every concert, musical and movie premiere possible with my friends simply because we were so close to LA. Of course, this was instantly dashed by our dear friends; homework and midterm, but I still wanted to absolutely everything in my immediate area at the 5Cs.
Freshman year was when FOMO hit me the hardest. I was attending every orientation event with new friends, but I somehow was missing out on other events that were happening when I would check my Facebook the morning after these events. During this year, my friends and I went to practically every 5C event because we did not want to miss out on anything exciting. I wanted to be on the “in” when it came to what was going on around campus. Of course, each time my friends and I would check Facebook, we would see pictures of other classmates all dressed up and having the time of their life in each picture at different clubs or parties that we did not know about. Even during the week, pictures of hiking trips up mountains or encounters with natural waterfalls in the wilderness nearby were also present, making me feel like I was not taking full advantage of being in Southern California. I felt like I was not doing enough to put myself out there to people and was missing out on so many “fun” opportunities just because I was not experiencing what I thought a majority of others in my class were doing.
Another factor that influenced my inflated FOMO was the media the portrayed college as the “best time of our lives.” Television shows I watched before I came to college made me feel like I had to go out and do something every weekend in order to live my life to the fullest. The over-the-top parties and spring break vacations being shown on these shows added fuel to the fire of my college FOMO. I felt like there were a set of expectations that were made for me from media influences; these expectations, however, set me up for eminent failure due to their grandiose nature. I would never escape my feeling of FOMO unless I let go of these extreme expectations of what college expected from me and learned to do my own thing. This would lead to me having fun with the friends I had, doing the things we thought were fun, and not worrying about comparing what I was doing with what I thought “everybody else” (read as: Facebook friends) was doing.
Throughout my years at CMC, the feeling of FOMO slowly dissipated as I figured out that mostly everyone felt the same way. This came about when someone mentioned to me how jealous they were of how much fun I looked like I had each weekend due to Facebook. At that moment I realized that I had the same feelings about that person when their pictures would pop up on my newsfeed. I think we all have our own FOMO moments where we think we are not taking advantage of doing “everything” and need to compensate by trying to go to more parties or events due to fearing that missing out that others are experiencing.
Facebook and Twitter are dangerous lands of deception for a college student. They lead us to believe we are missing out on fun opportunities and friendships, which distracts us from what we do have. Being in such a connected world, plus being so close to one of the most exciting and entertaining cities in the country, does not aid in our FOMO moments. However, the pictures and statuses that make us feel like we are missing out or being left out should not matter. What should matter to us are the experiences that we have during our college years with the group of friends we have. To be blunt, what other people are doing does not matter; what should matter is that we leave our experience at CMC with memories of what we did, not the thoughts of what we could have done.
Now in my last semester at CMC, I have become incredibly apathetic to any form of FOMO. I have learned to enjoy what I am doing with the important people that surround me now rather than worry about what I might be missing out on. Going out each weekend has transformed to going out when I feel like it; the pressure of doing exciting and adventurous things in order to “keep up” with my peers has past. By not allowing FOMO to overtake me, I have let go of a huge weight that has allowed me to actually enjoy my college experience rather than do everything to maintain my social media status of being exciting. Instead of enjoying my life before, I was attempting to live up to imaginary expectations of “college life” that are impossible to maintain. Now, in my last year in college, I have learned to cure my own personal FOMO by enjoying what I have and what I do, rather than worrying about what others are doing. Sure, I probably missed out on some exciting stuff in college, but, in the end, I really did not miss out on too much.