Coachella, Instagram, and the Fear of Missing Out

COACHELLA AND SOCIAL MEDIA

This blog post idea was inspired by my news feed this week on Instagram. In case you don’t already know, the most popular music festival (Coachella) has just started again this year! And if you’re on Instagram and you have photos of yourself at Coachella, basically everyone 13 to 35 wants to be you. It’s the most exciting and most “Instagramable” event that someone could attend. AND it takes tons of money to be able to be able to go. 

This weekend, my entire news feed is filled with all of my favorite content creators at Coachella sharing their stories and most beautiful Instagram photos. In just a few minutes of being online, I’m able to see all of the highlights of the performances and see the incredible events and parties that are happening. Almost any popular celebrity or creator is in the desert right now – dressed in the most fashionable festival clothing while listening to Beyoncé and sipping on something delicious. So of course, the social media envy begins. While others are enjoying this amazing experience, I’m working on a school project and going through waves of “FOMO.”  

SOCIAL MEDIA ENVY & ME 

Of course, we all have our own amazing experiences and just because someone else is celebrating something, my rational mind knows that it doesn’t take away from our own celebrations or accomplishments. But I’ve noticed something over the past few years that happens when this fear of missing out and social media envy creeps up into my life again. I feel as if I’m suddenly not doing enough, and I beat myself up for no reason at all. 

This past week I won the Distinguished Student Award, which only one person per major receives. It was one of the proudest moments of my life because I had to do tons of work to get that accomplishment. Not only that, but I survived the dreaded Senior Oral Defense, which determines whether or not you graduate. AND, I presented the smoke-free policy to the President’s Cabinet at Flagler College which I’ve been working on for months. Each one of those is something to be proud of, and something to celebrate. But even though I’m happy for a short period of time, within 20 minutes my mind instantly thinks … “Well, I could try harder. I could take on another cool project. I could book another photoshoot. I could edit my Youtube video during my bits of free time. I could go out tonight with friends. I could go visit friends. I should be doing something amazing right now besides work. I could buy a festival ticket for this summer.” I actually beat myself up over not having enough fun and not having something more interesting to post online. 

This is the whole reason why I created this blog, to discuss issues with social media and how it affects us. People on social media have hundreds, if not thousands of friends or followers… which means that at any given point, someone is always having the best day of their life and posting about it. If we don’t have anything exciting happening that day, we compare ourselves to a perfect photo of someone at a music festival. 

SOCIAL COMPARISON THEORY

Before social media, people would compare their lives to others, it’s called social comparison theory. It’s the idea that people compare their social and personal growth and their “image” to others which they perceive as doing better or worse. But now, we have the ability to see in just seconds what is going on with each one of our friends and even celebrities. So we end up ALWAYS perceiving ourselves as doing worse! It reminds me of something that I learned from The Minimalists, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn (who by the way have awesome blog posts and podcasts). They always say that no amount of money, no amount of accomplishments, no amount of awards, no amount of clothes, and no amount of lavish vacations will ever be enough to make us happy. 

SO HOW DO WE BECOME HAPPIER WITHOUT DISMISSING SOCIAL MEDIA? 

The best way to be happy is to not look for happiness in the wrong places. To stop thinking that if we had the perfect apartment that people envied, the perfect social media feed, or the perfect wardrobe then we would be fulfilled. The way to eliminate this feeling of having to outperform our peers and have a perfect life is by living intentionally. So if we feel as if we’re getting frustrated with social media at that time, we log off and stop looking at it.

Next, instead of thinking “I should be doing ____ this right now.” Ask yourself: “What could I do to add value to this moment?” And by adding value, that doesn’t mean being more productive! Adding value means making this moment the best it could be. For me, I asked myself how I could add value to my morning, so I decided to write a blog post. Writing about what’s on my mind is what makes me feel good and happy. Instead of wasting your time in a bubble of social comparison, think how you could add value to your life and make yourself feel fulfilled. Maybe it’s by spending that time with family or engaging in a conversation with someone new instead of scrolling through your phone, or maybe it’s by calling a friend or working on a painting. Social comparison is always going to be there, whether we want it to be or not. But we can make a conscious decision to not feed into those thoughts. Instead, find a way to add value to our day and be happier without flying across the country and go to Coachella!

To learn more from The Minimalist, check out their blog! They’re incredibly helpful.

Are you familiar with this feeling when you’re on social media? What is your advice for dealing with social media envy or social comparison theory? Let me know below!

Photo by Kenny Knight @kryptoknight.

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