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On FOMO and Limiting Social Media

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It's time to get personal... I have a problem.

I've been seriously struggling with FOMO (the fear of missing out) and social media exhaustion for the past year or so. Lately, it feels like everywhere I turn (or scroll) there's something amazing happening that I wasn't invited to or don't have the means / time / energy to make happen for myself and for my family. There's a constant nagging pressure to occupy some kind of virtual space. What started out as a fun way to keep up with friends, pass the time and gather inspiration has become quite a chore and a major source of self doubt. With a seemingly endless number of social platforms to maintain and a constant influx of pretty pictures and perfect moments, it's increasingly hard to stay afloat in this digital world.

A phenomenon brought on by the (mostly) new propensity to document every single aspect of our lives, FOMO has become more than just a cheesy acronym used to describe Saturday nights (or, for some of us, a lack thereof). For me, the fear of missing out or missing a post has become really hard to navigate. You may have noticed that I've been taking a step back on Instagram and sharing fewer posts than ever on this blog. My hiatus pretty much boils down to a feeling of "freezing up" and overthinking the content I'm putting out into the world. Is it enough? Will it resonate? Is it just more of the same? The desire to create bigger and better things coupled with the pressure to be original, keep up with the next five bloggers and be innovative has become all but crippling. While I'm still not in the best place with social media, a major period of quiet has been so helpful in finding my footing again.

If, like me, you're in dire need of a detox, here are a few (mostly obvious) ways to combat FOMO and social overload:

distance //  The best thing to do when you're feeling the social media anxiety is to create distance. Take a break from Instagram, unfollow the feeds that make you feel like you're lacking and steer clear of the problem. It's almost second nature now to reach for our phones and scroll through updates when there's a lull in the day or first thing in the morning but being present in the real world (read: not taking place behind a tiny screen) is paramount. Although it seems like completely giving up an online life just isn't an option anymore (I'm in major awe of those who can pull this off but blogging as a profession and having friends / family all over the world seems to prevent me from totally unplugging), you CAN control how often and when you engage.

worry about yourself // Your life is not the life of your neighbor. Try your hardest not to compare your journey with everyone else and remember that everything will happen for you in its own time. I'm still working on this one!

realize you're not the only one struggling // I'd go as far as to say that we're all learning how to wade through the ocean of social media comparison and the fear of missing out. While it may not seem this way (damn those pretty feeds and their way of convincing you that everyone's life is sunshine and flat-lays), we're all navigating the new digital world together. Take a step back and reconcile that you're not the only one having a hard time with this. Seek out friends or start up an honest conversation. I'm always here to chat if you're feeling down!

learn to see the highlight reel for what it is // It's not real. That's what it all comes down to, isn't it? Most of those pretty posts are staged and people aren't as likely to snap and share the moments that aren't all smiles. It can feel like everyone else is living their best life but try and remember that we all get into PJs and eat rocky road in front of the TV. Just me?

be grateful // Whenever I start feeling like I don't have this, that and the other I try to dial back and be grateful for the things that I do have. I have a beautiful family, a roof over my head and food in my belly. I have the time and grace to explore my passions and make mistakes. I have made wonderful connections turned friends. What do you have?

find social channels that feed you, not tax you // Taking some time away from social media has really helped me identify the things I do and do not like about it all. Likes: staying connected, sharing memories, being inspired, creating. Dislikes: competition, pressure, feeling left behind. I have weeded out the social channels that feel taxing (for me that's a few of the more boring outlets like Twitter, Google+, etc.) and identified the ones that feed my soul with inspiration (Pinterest and Tumblr for collecting pretty images and bright ideas). Then there are those double-edged swords (Instagram and Facebook) that seem to do a little bit of both. I'm still learning how to use these to connect in authentic ways and do away with the features that don't serve me.

get over yourself (sorry) // This bit of advice is more for myself but get over yourself. There is so much more going on in the world than social media. Find some perspective and re-evaluate the energy you're putting into things that don't serve a bigger purpose.

p.s. It was almost an instinct to sign off from this post with a plug to my own social media feeds but instead I'll say this:

You are not the summation of a grid filled with tiny squares. You are so much more than the 82 people that liked your latest #shelfie.

How do you feel about social media? How do you deal with the pressure to be the perfect 'grammer? Do you suffer from FOMO? How do you cope? Let's talk it out!

LifestyleChelsea Tubbs