FOMO and Friends: The Dark Side of Social Networks

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A very dramatic title. Indulge me.

The internet is bleedin’ great isn’t it? The THINGS it does for us. My workday would consist entirely of doodling my name on a blank notepad were it not for its almighty powers. But jaysus if it hasn’t given me some problems as well. When I say ‘the internet’, that is of course a sweeping generalisation. I really mean social networks. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to be precise.

1. First came FOMO

FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, originated somewhere between Twitter’s inception and the first time Derek Blasberg posted a picture of him and Karlie Kloss having a whale of a time. FOMO comes about every time a picture is posted of any of your friends doing anything that looks remotely good and you’re not there. It happens on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everwhere. You pour over the pictures, reading the in-joke captions and not understanding any of it (AH!). Just as you’re about to cry, you’re mercifully distracted by a gchat. If, when you revisit the FOMO-maker, you realise that you weren’t invited, that’s where Problem 2: Intense InstaParanoia, comes in.

2. Intense InstaParanoia

You’re flicking around Instagram and casually throwing a few double taps someone’s way, when you see a picture of your best friend, arms swung around a colleague’s neck, and the caption #BFFs #megalols #wowthisissoooomuchfun #HAHAyou’renothere underneath (OKAY, those might not be the real captions, but this is the paranoia section, so get on board). You instantly think the following:

I’ve been replaced
She HATES me
How come I wasn’t told about this night out?
It’s because I’m not attractive enough
God I wish I was there
I’m the least cool person ever
Maybe I’ll delete my Instagram #cantcope
BUT THEN HOW WILL I KNOW!?!?

Of course, all of these thoughts are beyond ridiculous. A sane, normal person should conclude that their friend has other friends, is a free agent, still loves you as much and will more than likely post a similar pic featuring YOU by the end of the week. But no. Social networks have created a cycle of fear that starts with an innocently posted selfie (the ilk of which you probably post regularly yourself).

3. Life Envy

Facebook is a place for different types of people. You have the moaners (“So freaked right now… Why are people such assholes? xoxo) that post attention seeking statuses, inviting questions and sympathy as to their plight. You have the people who can’t string a sentence together (“enjoy use are holidays girl’s use will av a brilient time xxxx) who use Facebook as a forum intent solely on making my blood pressure rise – note: these people also use kisses as punctuation for some infuriating reason. You have the stalker only people (they don’t post statuses, are you mad. They’re there for the creeping, end of) and you have the life envy inducers

Life envy is something you get when you see someone who has something that you want, and they’re on a similar level to you, so it seems achievable. There’s no life envy when you look at Beyoncé, for instance – you know you can’t get to her level so no need to be jel. Whereas your peers – colleauges, friends, family members – who are living a dream of yours right there in your front (Facebook) garden, well. That’s just selfish.

4. Who DARED unfollow me?

So… there’s this website. And you can go there. And for free, and without signing up to anything, you can check who has recently unfollowed you on Twitter. Personally, I check it daily. My penchant for internet related self-torture knows no bounds. It generally goes one of three ways:

1. I see no one has unfollowed me. I feel powerful, intelligent, LIKED.
2. I see a little bundle of strangers have unfollowed me. Most of them not Irish. I shrug it off.
3. I see a few people I sort of semi-know unfollowed me. I check back through tweets for potential insults and deem everything above board. I contemplate for a bit but get over it.
4. I see someone I know, and like, has unfollowed me. Rage and confusion simultaneously bubble under my skin’s surface and I question every tweet in my 14k+ repertoire. I think about confronting them. I think about possible reasons – did Twitter do it by accident? Was it an accidental click? HAVE THEY GONE INSANE?

It’s a terrible, terrible place. But if you, like me, are a glutton for punishment… who.unfollowed.me is the website. Proceed with caution.

5. What are THEY at…

Relationships have a whole new dimension to them nowadays thanks to the advent of social networks and smartphones. Before, if you wanted to check if your fella was putting it about, checking his pockets and sniffing his shirt collar was the most impressive CIA style sh*t you could do.

NOW?

Well. There’s about twenty bajillion apps to keep track of. Here are just a few of the cursed things and why they turn perfectly reasonable, sensible, sane individuals into creepy, possessive, nosy mofos with nothing better to do than sit around trying to crack the iPhone’s four digit code while their boyfriend is in the bathroom.

  • Whatsapp – that timestamp? KILL. ME. NOW. You were online at 4am? WHO were you talking to at that hour? Your mates don’t text you at that hour. OH, you were checking it in your sleep were ya?? Likely story. (sound familiar?)
  • Facebook – But WHY is she in your top friends list there? That’s not random you know. That selects people based on who you interact with. And I saw all those pictures as well… Don’t try to tell me she didn’t try it on. (sound familiar?)
  • Twitter – It says you have a DM from “Kelly_xxx”. Spam? Yeah right. Who is she? Is what she said not okay for public consumption? HOW MANY OTHERS ARE THERE?!?! (sound familiar?)
  • Snapchat – oh so your ‘best friend’ list has two strange girls on it. Who are they? And if they’re from work, why are they sending sexy snapchats?! Snapchat is ALL for sexy pictures, I know, I use it too! (sound familiar?!)

Okay, so all of the above are the mutterings of a total madser who has severe trust issues. But don’t pretend like versions of that don’t cross your mind every time a smartphone is left unattended and you get fruity with your investigatory skills.

Things can get really crazy, really fast if you let your mind wander and your fingers wander over to snoopsville. My motto (recently adopted for fear of causing myself an actual brain haemorrhage) is this: Don’t snoop. You’ll find stuff that’ll upset you unnecessarily. And before you question your other half’s online activity, check your own out. That’ll teach you.

So there you have it. The many pains in the arse caused to normal people by social networking. I admire anyone who frequents social networks and suffers from none of the above. How do you do it, and where can I learn your ways?!! Clearly it’s required…

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9 thoughts on “FOMO and Friends: The Dark Side of Social Networks

  1. cherrysue says:

    Chuckled all the way through and didn’t recognise myself at all, at all, at all. Who am I kidding this is about me, ISN’T IT?! *collapses in paranoid heap of snots*

  2. Aweeze says:

    Defo not me …. well maybe the stalker bit, but just cause I need to stay up to date with my lovely nieces and see if there is anything that I think their parents should know !!
    Ah now would I ?

    Another thing I have to say is, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, were made to suck you in. Once there you’re hooked. You find yourself scheduling time to be online and when you don’t make it, it’s like wtf am I missing.

    Note to nieces …. please stop joining new social media sites. There are only so many I can cope with. As you know, once you join it’s impossible to leave. It’s a cult.

    Great read as always … but damn you, you make me look for imperfections in myself and we all know I’m perfect … right ?? LMFAO

  3. ArtDonatella says:

    Ok, this is deadly. I mean it. Deadly!

    I need to ban myself from all these sites because I can definitely see myself in your post, or at least in some bits of your post (inserts reference to points 2, 3 & 4).

  4. Auntie T #1 says:

    I have been called a stalker before  by me of course – (Sisters, Nieces and Nephews only) I am a FB person only, don’t trust myself to go outside that right now….I don’t have a smart phone but I am tempted everyday to get one, then I am reminded by the people around me who are more interested in checking their FB page and Twitter feed rather than have a conversation with the person they are sitting with & I then I think….
    1) I am the boring one, because I am not checking my phone.
    2) I am not cool
    3) Then FOMO kicks in.
    4) Then I realize the person I am with has full blown FOMO, mine is only a mild dose, and can be cured (yes), so I don’t feel so bad.

    I have also witnessed a group of 3 – 4 people sitting together and ALL are checking their phone’s for something, so then I feel superior in the knowledge that I don’t have a severe case of FOMO just a mild one….so still putting off getting the “Smart Phone” cause does it really make you SMARTER??

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