Overcoming Facebook and the fear of missing out

By Kim Giles, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Aug 26th, 2013 @ 6:15am



SALT LAKE CITY — This week in LIFEadvice, Coach Kim Giles gives some sound advice on changing the way you look at difficult situations and choosing a positive outlook. Coach Kim's unique tips will make you see your journey in a different light.

Question:

I think I might have Facebook depression, because it seriously makes me feel bad about myself. I know I should just cancel my account, but I can’t get myself to do it. I keep looking at it, even though it is discouraging. Facebook feels like a big popularity contest where the person with the most friends and the most interesting life wins. Why can’t I just cancel my account and stop looking?

Answer:

You are not alone in this frustration. Facebook makes a lot of people feel depressed and inadequate. A study conducted by two German Universities found that Facebook created rampant envy and an unhealthy level of social comparison in many users — yet we can’t stop looking at it.

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Most of us started using Facebook because we wanted a connection with other people, but for many it now feels like a competition where we must constantly prove our value and define our existence. There is no doubt life would be less stressful if you cancelled your social media accounts. You would get more done and spend less time comparing yourself with others, but we all get why you can’t do it.

You might miss something.

You probably have what is now being called FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out. A recent JWT survey said 70 percent of adults have FOMO, and it causes a serious amount of stress for most of us.

Researchers at Edinburgh University said that 1 out of 10 Facebook users admit the site makes them anxious (and they feel an unhealthy amount of pressure to come up with inventive status updates and stay up-to-date on everyone's lives). In spite of all of this, most people refuse to cancel their accounts.

The fear of loss is a powerful force.

You are afraid something important might happen and you would be out of the loop, but this fear shows up in other areas of life, too. It may compel you to record the new episode of your favorite show so you don’t miss it, even though your life would go on just fine if you missed it. You may buy things you don’t need if there is an amazing price for a limited time.

You could struggle with ordering in a restaurant because you are afraid you might miss something you would have liked better. You may stay uncommitted on your weekend plans because you want to check all the options before you commit. You might struggle with making all kinds of simple decisions because every choice means missing out on one of the options.

This fear could also cause problems in your relationships. You may hesitate to marry this girl or that boy because you might miss out on someone better who could come along later. But, if you don’t marry that person and decide to wait for a better one, you might regret that and wish you’d taken this one. (This is FOMO at work.)

Here are a couple suggestions for easing FOMO and having a healthy mindset on social media:

  1. Make a rule against comparing yourself with other people. You cannot base your self-worth on how you compare to others. There will always be someone who has more friends, has more fun, and is more clever, witty and photogenic than you are. Switch your focus online to lifting, loving and encouraging other people instead. Also remember, there is no person on the planet who got signed up for the same classroom journey you have. You are a one-of-a-kind soul on a totally unique journey through life, and there is no level where comparing yourself to others serves you. We all have the same value. (If you struggle with this, consider getting some help from a coach or counselor to work on your self-esteem.)
  2. Choose gratitude for every small blessing in your life. Start a gratitude journal or take some time every day to meditate on what’s right about who you are and what you have.
  3. Trust that your choices are the right ones for you. Every time you make a decision, you are nudged by your gut in that direction. Trust that these nudges mean something. Whatever choice you make, it will create your perfect next lesson. Whatever you choose will be perfect.
  4. Refuse to wallow in regret, because it’s a waste of energy. It does you no good whatsoever to waste today regretting a past decision you cannot change. Let it go and focus on today, the only place you have any control.
  5. Put choices in perspective. If you miss the finale of your favorite show, is it really going to matter in the grand scheme of your life? If you order something for dinner you don’t love, does it really matter? If you miss a party because you weren’t on Facebook to see the invitation, is it the end of the world?
  6. Accept that you are going to miss some things — and you will be fine. Missing some things doesn't change your value or diminish your life.
  7. Limit the time you spend online. Get out and do things in the real world instead. Find some interests, hobbies or projects to do. Studies have shown that people are more happy when they are busy and active.
  8. Remember life isn’t a contest, race or competition. Life is about learning and loving, so choose to focus on learning, growing and giving to others. You can’t experience fear when you are actively choosing love.
  9. Remember that Facebook is not an accurate picture of real life. People only post the stuff that makes them look good. In real life everyone has struggles and problems. No one's life turns out the way they expect it to. Facebook is a PR campaign to sell the image of success and happiness; it is not the whole story of someone's life.

Keep an accurate mindset about life and people, and you will feel much better.

Hope this helps.


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