I don’t have a Facebook.
This isn’t because I crave some alternative lifestyle unplugged from the world. I do own a cell phone and a laptop, and I have many of the same social media apps as most college students. I also did not rid Facebook from my life because I inherently wanted to – I was hacked and deleted it as a preventative measure.
However, I have made the conscious decision not to jump back into the Facebook scene, and now say – with pride I might add – that I’ve been Facebook-free for more than three months.
I used to catch myself scrolling through the "book" until I had made my way to my ex-roommate’s friend from college’s brother’s girlfriend. (We’ve all been there; let’s not kid ourselves.) Thirty-plus minutes had gone by and not only had I not made a dent in any of the work I’d hoped to accomplish, I was now jealous of this random girl’s vacation photos and the cute bathing suit she was wearing.
This sensation is colloquially referred to as FOMO, aka fear of missing out. Yes, this is a real thing; Oxford added the term to its dictionaries a few years ago, defining it as the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
So here I was, having FOMO while sitting in the library wearing my gym outfit and sporting zero makeup. Random girl on Facebook: 1, me: 0. Facebook does that to you.
J. Walter Thompson, a leading marketing communications group, conducted a study scientifically confirming the experience I was having. The results showed that as many as 70 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) said they could completely or at least somewhat relate to the concept of FOMO. Nearly four in 10 people reported experiencing it often. The young adults expressed feelings of missing out when seeing via social media that peers were doing something they weren’t, buying something they weren’t or finding out something before they did.
I think there is an interesting problem with our generation: It’s not that we are bad at being with other people, it’s that we are so bad at being without them that we let even the cyber-presence of others fill a void. While this isn’t overwhelmingly terrible in moderation, in excess – when we are cyber-stalking our ex-roommate’s friend from college’s brother’s girlfriend – it can have serious effects on our psyche.
When I deleted my Facebook I wasn’t immediately cured of FOMO. In fact, I actually felt a slight fear of missing out on Facebook. What were people talking about in the “Friends from Home” group, who posted pictures from last night? I wanted to be in the know. But thankfully, this “FOMOOF” didn’t last long, and the FOMO disappeared with it.
I came to realize how pointless it is to care about other people’s lives, their vacations or their bathing suits – people I barely knew or only once knew in middle school, nonetheless. I should just be happy with my own friends, my own personal experiences and myself. Plus, the people I really cared about, like my close friends and family, would fill me in on the details of their lives in person. Or, better yet, I’d be with right alongside them for the fun.
I’m more productive these days without Facebook. And as cliché as it sounds, I feel better about my own life. I don’t have any set plans to get a Facebook again, although I’m frequently asked when I’ll be back. I think people just miss my incessant photography, honestly.
Not having a Facebook at the age of 21 in the year 2015 may seem like an oxymoron, but I love it and suggest everyone take a hiatus at some point in time. It’s good for your happiness.
(Please share this article on your Facebook to spread the word, since I cannot.)
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