Facebook and the Fear of Missing Out

I’m taking some time off from Facebook.

I’ve “detoxed” from websites in the past, most recently Reddit, after getting disgusted with its typical user behavior. (After I returned, I removed every default subreddit subscription I had, and the experience has been much improved.) However, my reason for my “trial separation” from Facebook is different.

The “Fear of Missing Out” (or FOMO) is a documented phenomenon that’s made worse by social media. I laughed off the linked article when I first saw it — I mean, how can a little success envy negate the increased connectedness that Facebook provides?

There’s a saying: “Don’t compare your B-roll to another person’s highlight reel.” Unfortunately, Facebook enables it to an extreme. Nor does it help that I have a lot of successful friends. A steady stream of wedding announcements, vacation photos, and awards can be discouraging, especially if people self-censor their less-than-wonderful moments. I occasionally see the friend having a bad day, or someone with a broken stove, or someone whose car broke down in the middle of a road trip, but the ratio is definitely skewed.

Lately it’s become a trigger for some mild self-destructive behavior. My apartment has recently been invaded by Little Debbie snacks and my fridge with soda. When you hear about the umpteenth publishing contract a friend was offered compared to your sad litter of form-rejected stories, it can suck the enthusiasm right out of you.

I want my friends to be successful, no doubts about that. But I need to be more removed from that if I’m going to find my own way.

I’ll be off for a couple weeks to start, possibly longer. I’ll still answer Facebook messages, but I won’t be posting links (other than this one), liking or sharing posts, or looking at my news feed. I’ll be on Twitter and posting here.