Life Without Social Media

I intended to post about this so called self-challenge more than a year ago, but then I thought it would be better if it's discussed when it's already done, just to see what's the result. So I just left it in the draft folder. Well now after a year challenging myself to life without social media, I  guess this post is due.

Circa May 2017, I scrolled my Path's timeline —the only social media app I used to have back then— and found nothing new, no one from my small amount of friends posted something new. I did it several times every once in a while until I realized that I did open the app and check on them every five minutes! No wonder if there's no new post, everyone's either busy with works or their children, before they went back posting something again. I started to find what kind of phenomenon that's just happening to me? Is it FoMO? I've read about it a lot on the internet. Am I experiencing it? Well, maybe.

I need to remind myself again the definition of it, so let's take a look here.

FoMo or Fear or Missing Out has been defined in one of Computer in Human Behavior's journal as a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, where it is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing (Przybylski et al., 2013, p. 1842). According to the authors of the article, FoMO was strongly linked to higher levels of social media engagement, it was shown to mediate the effects of certain personal characteristics (need deficits, emotional problems) on social media engagement. And the most terrific statement of all is that FoMO was associated with lower need satisfaction, mood and life satisfaction.

When I read about it at that time, it felt so close to me, like, all of these articles were talking about me. I believe we can actually relate with it, who's not using social media apps these days anyway? But the problem is (at least for me) that we don't want to admit that we have that kind of behavior in us. Checking social media while driving? Yes. Checking social media during class? Yes. Checking social media on the dinner table with family? Yes. Checking social media in the dark before bedtime? Yes. We —or in this case, me— are so afraid to miss any update out  from our friends' lives if we miss one or two of their posts, and we deny that this behavior is one of mental health problems. You see, my friends, FoMo frequently derives in unhappiness, maybe when we're not feeling really great about our life. From the study of the journal mentioned above, it's found that those with low levels of satisfaction of the fundamental needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness tend towards higher levels of fear of missing out as do those with lower levels of general mood and overall life satisfaction.

Upon realizing it, I began my journey of finding the way to overcome this issue. I believed that I have FoMo —it's absolutely not a good thing to begin with—, and I needed to beat it out. After reading and analyzing some articles on the internet, I found out that most of them recommend people who are struggling with FoMo to take breaks from social media and try to focus more on the environment and people around them in the present moment. Well,  I have come to terms with it that I had to leave all of social network site for a while until I know that I can use it properly, be aware that I'm on social media purely to connect with family and friends, not because I am unhappy with my life so that I stop paying attention to real life and turn to social media instead, to make me feel better.

What happened after a year of living without social media? I can tell that I feel quite happy about my ordinary life, I may not be able to go on a family vacation every two months like all of the people in my social media timeline, or I may not be able to buy designers bags or any branded items, but I feel enough with what my husband provides and with what kind of life I have, because I don't see the importance to compare it with other people's lives anymore.  You know, when we're on social media, we have this kind of unavoidable comparisons to the 'perfect' lives presented there that makes we feel we have less. Now, I believe that what people present on their social media sites are only the good and beautiful ones, but that doesn't mean they're not struggling, everyone's struggling with their life, but they just don't show that ugly side in their cleverly curated social media account. I also can say that I finally could get over my FoMO, I don't need to give extra effort to know the updates from people I care who do care about me too, because eventually they will tell me in person. As per today, I still have my social media account (not deactivated yet), but checking social media again, again, and again? Never. Hopefully for good.

Przybylski et al., 2013 A.K. Przybylski, K. Murayama, C.R. DeHaan, V. Gladwell Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out

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