Amber Liu, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: FOMO. How often do you experience FOMO (fear of missing out)? How has it impacted your life?
After years of what felt like a ceaseless addiction, I finally quit.
The New Year was coming up and I, among millions of other people, was brainstorming New Year resolutions. New Year resolutions often have a dubious stigma around them, and while I am guilty of breaking my resolutions, I was determined to change my life with this one alteration. So what was my New Year resolution and what does that have to do with FOMO? My New Year resolution was to delete Snapchat. This may seem miniscule and dismal to some people but to me, it was a treacherous decision.
The Fear of Missing Out, rather FOMO, is a modern phenomenon that many if not most young people experience. The pervasive feeling of uneasiness when you are not elsewhere or missing something great, is detrimental to one’s well-being. This fear leads many people to constantly check social media to see what others are doing. However, when people are consistently seeing what others are doing they are inevitably comparing themselves and enjoying others lives.
It was a vicious cycle that I knew I had to break out of. I thought about all the social media apps that I used the most and decided Snapchat to be the culprit of my internal angst. The act of consistently checking what my peers were doing, (half of whom were just acquaintances) posting stories as a subconscious ego boost, and feeling pressure to include aesthetic and entertaining pictures became exhausting. I felt like I needed to free myself from fancifully living through others and live in the reality of my own life. This was the only way I could truly live in the moment.
Deleting Snapchat was just the first step. Media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram are merely tools and like any tool, the effectiveness depends on its user. It is not only an external issue that can be resolved in one day. It is an internal battle of choosing what I truly care about. Seeing and thinking about what other people were doing made me feel uncomfortable and I felt like I was losing pieces of myself. When I am constantly worrying or envying what other people are doing I am losing track of what I am doing. I have been working on being present in my own life and not letting others dictate my decisions. If all I do is live vicariously through other people’s lives then before I know it, my own reality will become an illusion.
Amber is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Advertising and Multimedia Design.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.