Like a lot of people my age, I probably suffer from some degree of social media addiction. We all have different factors that fuel the obsession, but for me it’s about making sure I’m capturing moments and staying engaged with my community. If I’m not checking social media, I’m worried I’m missing out on something and I’ll regret it. That FOMO runs wild, you know?
This is probably partially because I felt very disconnected in Syracuse. When I moved to Charlotte I wanted to make sure that I met people and attended events. In order to do this, you actually have to pay attention to what’s going on, and I use social media to keep me clued in. However, the flip side is that I put pressure on myself to always be connected. I get convinced that when I tune out for a little while, I’m missing *all* the things. All of them.
This led me to feel pretty burnt out recently. I was tired of feeling compelled to be out and about four nights a week. I was tired of feeling the ever-present burn of social media on my phone, just begging to be refreshed or commented on. I just wanted to chill.
I got the perfect opportunity as my extended family and I headed to Florida to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. While I was still a little bit engaged — come on, you have to get that obligatory beach selfie everyone takes where you get your legs in the foreground and the ocean in the background– I also spent most of the time away from my phone. Instead of noting that I was “interested” in an event on Facebook, I was sitting with my aunt and uncle, who are in their 70s, hearing about what life was like when they grew up. They knew my grandpa and grandma, who I never got to meet, so I asked lots of questions about them. It was really special to talk to them uninterrupted.
I started to feel slightly guilty and panick-y about neglecting my e-mail and my blog towards the end of the trip, but then I remembered that the world will continue to turn on its axis if I step away from all things electronic for a brief period of time. You don’t always have to be connecting and communicating and reading and expressing. In fact, when you force yourself to be “on” electronically all the time, it makes your interactions less valuable. It’s almost like it’s all a series of little algorithms, instead of actual human connections. It also drains your energy.
I came back from the trip feeling refreshed. I’m ready to go to events and to continue meeting people here in Charlotte, but I also know I need to keep my FOMO in check so I don’t let myself reach that burn out point again. Being involved is cool, but downtime and letting yourself just hang out and watch Netflix one night while your phone sits in the other room is also totally acceptable.