4.28.2019

FOMO is Real AF

It’s been almost 30 years since I’ve had cause to look through the pages of the DSM. Back then I think it was the DSM-3. Now I think it’s up to 5. At the time I’m not sure they had a diagnosis for FOMO-heck, they still might not, but I can assure you it’s a very real thing.

FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out is a condition whereby otherwise sane and rational people do shit they wouldn’t normally do just to feel that they aren’t somehow missing out on something. It’s one of the primary reasons that Clickbait and email phishing works so well. Along with that is the theory of the info-gap. But for the purposes of keeping things straightforward for the three of you that still make your way over to this dank corner of my mind, we’ll stick with just talking about FOMO and save the whole info-gap theory for another time.

Back in the fall/winter of 2018, I listened to a podcast on the topic of digital minimalism. I was fascinated by the concept. I recognized some things in my own life that I thought might be able to be addressed by cutting back on some of my online vices.. I wrote a blog post about cutting back on my digital interactions and trying to build my in-person interactions more. To focus on the joy I felt when I was in the same room sharing a joke and a deep belly laugh and not just a thumbs up and LMFAO. I had a clear intent in mind when I wrote that post. It didn’t necessarily meet with the kind of reception that I had in mind. Some of my friends saw it as kind of  me saying ‘fuck you, I don’t wanna bother with our friendship if we can’t hang out in meatspace.’ I wasn’t really saying that. But that doesn’t really matter at this point. I think I have strained or damaged some friendships from that post. I don’t know what I need to do to repair them at this point. But again, that’s probably a topic for another time.

Along with the whole podcast, blog post, alienating friends thing... I fired another salvo of self-death in the cyber realm. I deactivated my Facebook account. Only I didn’t do it in the normal way where you post on your wall that you’re thinking of deleting your Facebook account and then a handful of your friends tell you not to do it. That they would miss you. That you brighten their day. That it’s easy to cut back and only look at it sometimes. That the addiction of having to see who liked your post and wondering if someone really likes you or just likes the convenience of your friendship on Facebook. No. I didn’t do any of that. I just quietly deactivated my account one Sunday in December. No bells. No fanfare. No thing. Doing so further strained some friendships. And downright ended others.

I reasoned that my friends were all perfectly capable of reaching out to me if they wanted to. What I got when they did, though, was a heavy dose of ‘why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?’ And a whole slew of other things. I’m not even going into this. Some of the emotions tied to some of these conversations is still a little too raw.

So here we are. It’s almost May. It’s almost six months of not being on Facebook. Here’s the rub...I’m actually thinking about getting back on. And that’s kind of eating me up inside.

First and foremost...Facebook Messenger is an asshole of an application. You see, apparently if you deactivate your Facebook account, the page is still there. Waiting for you to come back. ON that page is a button. People can message you. From the page you deactivated. I guess the tech turds at Zuckerberg Central figure that if you aren’t on their social media drunk, they can get you with that sweet, sweet FB Messenger wine. So...6 months into my indefinite FB hiatus and I’m sitting here wondering just how many people messaged me. How many people thought I was an asshole for not messaging them back.

Enter FOMO.

I am an obliger. A people pleaser by nature. I don’t want people to be upset. I want to keep the peace. The thought that I could have hurt people by simply being ignorant of the fact that they still had the capability of messaging me when I thought I was making a clean break is really fucking with me in ways I didn’t think possible. That’s the fear. The fear of missing out. What message did I miss? What declaration of love from some ardent admirer worshipping my creative genius from afar? OK, the likelihood of that last one is rare, but the sentiment is there. WHAT DID I MISS??I didn’t know that Messenger still worked. So now I feel guilty. I feel selfish. I feel like I let someone down. I don’t know who I would have let down. But clearly I did. 

Clearly there was something I missed.

And then there is the fact that there are some clear challenges and holes with not taking the FB Blue Pill. I still find myself smiling like an idiot when I’m am in a conversation containing the phrase “…did you see the post on Facebook…” No. I didn’t. Because I am a cyber-leper or some nouveau hipster Luddite. I am, in fact, none of those things. 

But there are some things I miss. I miss feeling a part of people’s lives, even in a peripheral way. Is it better to have that peripheral exposure than nothing at all? I’m not really sure yet. Some days I’m OK with it. Some days I miss the invitations…the discussions…the feedback when I posted something on my blog and had the sense from a blue thumb icon that someone either read the post or at least was happy that I could still write something—I’m still not sure which.

Now…because my mind just can’t let things go (I swear the meds are helping, but there probably isn’t a cure)…but because I can’t let things go, and some days I have super shitty self-esteem, the flip side of the whole I let someone down because I didn’t see all of their missed messagesfeelings is the fact that if I doreactivate my account and look at Messenger (or even just load the Messenger app), that there be nothing there. That no one will have reached out or missed me. Either because they were pissed I just left FB without telling them, or that they really just didn’t notice that I wasn’t on their feed any longer and I had such a zero sum impact on their life that it didn’t matter that I left.   The sad part is…there are some friends that I do still see in real life that I have that feeling about. That it’s just easier to not stay in touch with me. 

Yes. I know that this post is very focused on the Me of this. Well, I mean, it kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? I can’t really speak for anyone else (this doesn’t stop me from thinking through entire conversations playing the role of another person and coming up with the worst case scenarios).

I have thus far fought the urge to log back in. I have to remember why I walked away from Facebook. I spent too much time on the site. To be fair, I have come to learn through a recent job change, that part of that may have been because I secretly hated my job. Or at least strongly resented my job. I also left each session I spent on the site feeling like everyone else had their shit together and I’d never have a life worthy of someone else’s online envy. Also, I have to be honest about the fact that there is quite likely an addiction element, too..

I miss some groups I was a part of. I miss some conversations I had.  I would like to have those conversations in person. I also miss those things that I don’t know I have missed. 

It’s weird in my head, ok?

I’m not going to log in. I’m not going to check the messages (or lack of messages) in messenger. If you messaged me, I’m sorry. I didn’t see it. I don’t know when I will see it. Probably never. I’m probably also going to forget your birthday since that is one of the things FB was really great about. So, sorry for that, too.

The wave of FOMO has subsided for the evening. I can’t say it’s gone completely, but for now I think I can cope. I have a few friends I can reach out too if I’m feeling too terribly alone. It’s weird, that list seems to be shifting. People I thought would be there no matter what seem to be fading and others stepping in. Again—thought vomit for another time.

With that, I’m off. I have some laundry to fold and some hip, irreverent photo to put on Instagram while I mention this blog post and hope that the counter spikes above the 3 Views that always come from me when I post something.

Have a wonderful evening my friends.

-Todd

1 comment:

Jamie said...

So, some real talk?

I tried to have this conversation with you in December. Well, I did, but you were drunk, and I was post-tipsy, so I'm not sure how much of that you even remember and/or took to heart.

I mean, yeah, we miss you on FB. Since we have about 60ish (give or take) miles between us, yes, it was a good way to interact with you even if it was "just" a thumbs up, or a lol, or some other reaction to a post. I've been slacking off on texting (and other things in my life, like my gratitude journal, oops), and I apologize for that. But I miss seeing your IG photos (because I'm not on IG, and rarely go to Twitter) there, and your random thoughts during the day.

I was also sad that I didn't hear from you on my birthday. I get that you got used to FB reminding you, but... don't you keep a bujo? Or planner? Or have a calendar on your phone? I wouldn't mind so much, except that I distinctly remember you talking about your own birthday and how you would have rather had texts or calls on your birthday (a post on this very blog, if memory serves), so I was a little let down that I didn't get anything at all from you until the day after, because I mentioned it on Twitter. I'm going to be a drama queen here a moment, but for real: I don't have many people that I'm super close to, so I notice when I don't hear from those people. Especially since fucking Star Wars steals my thunder every year; people will remember god damn "May the Fourth be with you" and forget my birthday entirely. Ugh. Okay, end that rant about Star Wars.

I think what it boils down to is a combination of the way you used the service wasn't a healthy option for you, and also it was the primary way a lot of people kept in touch with you, because we don't have the ability to actually be with you in meatspace the way you want. So when that primary form of communication was taken away? Yeah, it left some people sad and hurt. That feeling would be the same regardless of the platform; if it wasn't FB it would be something else. It would be like changing your phone number, and not telling any of us the new number (not the best comparison, but bear with me). If we don't know the new number, and text you, and get an automated text back saying that the number can't be reached? When that's how we usually communicate with you? Well, yeah, people would be hurt. "This is how I normally talk to Todd, but I can't reach him this way anymore, and he didn't tell me that he was changing this thing."

I fully support you doing what you need to do for your mental health. I also want to point out, though, that it's not about missing memes or even FB. It's about taking away that primary form of communication. So I say this with love: please understand that when you act hurt about people "not noticing you're gone" or that people aren't "reaching out to you in other ways if they want to" is valid, but also, frankly, a little entitled. See the previously mentioned taking-away of the primary form of communication. Also keep in mind that if FB was the primary place, then the likelihood of the other places where you've become more active are not the same places other people are equally as active. I am rarely on Twitter and it's been that way for several years. I deleted my IG when it was hacked into, but I was rarely on there as well.

Anyway. I know your life has changed a lot the last few months. Mine has too. Well, not a lot for me, but it's had some changes. I miss our friendship, and I'm sorry that I suck at maintaining it in a way that's healthy for you. Tomorrow is Friendsday. Right now it's Friendsday Eve. Happy Friendsday Eve, fam.

Where in the What? And Rainbows, too?!

It has been what...wait. That’s not right. Has it really been three months? Three months since I’ve dusted off the keys and put something up...