This article was first published on Wessex Scene’s website.
As generation’s go, we as an age bracket are some of the most aware of debilitating mental health symptoms, mindfulness and ‘self care’. We talk about our friends isolating themselves, and how to do our best to look out for them, asking if they need someone, trying as best we can to make sure someone isn’t suffering in silence.
However, I think there is a crushing issue within students and young adults that we aren’t talking about, despite the fact it presents itself almost everywhere. We have all talked about FOMO (fear of missing out), joked about it, used it when a friend is on a night out, but you went home for the weekend and are now regretting missing this insane, one of a kind night at Popworld.
But I think there is more than just FOMO at play here.
Perhaps it extends beyond just a fear of missing out into a fear of being alone all together. Or maybe I am dramatising, but either way, I think there is something here. With social media, and communication at our fingertips, FOMO is all the more an accessible and easily obtained emotion. We have the instant satisfaction that comes with social media but we also have the instant disappointment. Being able to chat with someone on the phone all day if you are lonely is great, so why not then extend that to ‘Hey, I can see on SnapMaps you are in town, wanna pop for a pint?’.
Filling your time with endless social engagements, often involving alcohol, can be a symptom of emotional struggles for the more extroverted among us. If you are never alone, you never have to actually deal with your worries and difficulties, you can deflect and distract yourself. Even over-booking yourself with work, uni, societies etc is a really damaging and draining pattern to get caught up in. If you are exhausted, any other worries pale into comparison to exhaustion. But we keep socialising and working and doing until we physically can do no more.
So, I think it is time we start looking at this extroverted coping mechanism the same way we look at reclusion, and seeing that they are both valid manifestations of mental health or emotional difficulties. There comes a point when FOMO is more than just a catchy hashtag.