The grass is always greener?

One of my all-time favourite bloggers Caterina Fake wrote a great post on Tuesday called FOMO and Social Media. FOMO being fear of missing out:

"Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on. You’re home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever before. And, like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you’re participating, not missing out, even when you are."

It's an amazing post with many brilliant thoughts. If you ever lay awake in bed at night thinking about how crazy is this internet, what would happen if you switched off your computer and just never went back, and what is all this social media bollocks doing to our brains anyway; what does it all MEAN?, well then I highly recommend Caterina's post.

(I get total FOMO reading Caterina's writing, by the way. FOMO in the form of, Fear I've Missed Out On About 70 Million Brain Cells compared to this wonderful woman. She invented Flickr, you know.)

Anyway! I was then having a gander at Mighty Girl Maggie's site this morning and she had shared her thoughts on Caterina's post:

"The thing is, I still love social media, despite the occasional sense that everyone is popping bottles of champagne on city rooftops while I watch The Office reruns in my yoga pants. Seeing what I’m “missing” has shaped how I decide to spend my time, reminded me to fill my life with stuff that makes me feel like there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Now when I feel like I’m missing out, I see it as a flag that I’m unhappy about something else, an indicator that I need to invest some time in finding my own fun, or a reminder to stay in the moment — even if the moment is just enjoying my friends photos in my PJs."

I like her perspective. Some really interesting comments too, including a reader who is giving up Facebook for lent and this one made me smile:

"Just hooked up a thrifted 1970’s phone that weighs, like 32 pounds. It rings and I have no idea who is calling until I answer. A surprise or two every day! Then, because of short cord, I have to sit down and really talk to whomever is calling. And if I hear my sausage sizzling on the stove. Sizzling too hard – I tell the person to hold on and then I go over and really focus on my sizzling sausage. Then I come back and the surprise person and I will have an intense sausage conversation…"

I've got about half a dozen unfinished posts on the go about this technology and mindfulness sort of shenanigans but will spare you for now (PHEW!). Hope you are having a most excellent week!

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25 thoughts on “The grass is always greener?

  1. Oh, this is super-interesting. Being from the olden times, I remember things like corded phones (with rotary dials, no less), but now I also take FB and other social media for granted. There’s definitely good and bad aspects to both technology eras. In my untrained and highly subjective viewpoint, I think people today tend to shy away from meaningful social interaction and avoid tangible contact with others. I’m probably not the first to say that electronic interactions are generally shallow – as in the excellent example of actually concentrating on the phone call with the friend.

    On the other hand, here I am writing my thoughts to someone I’ve never met in real life and yet consider a friend. I suppose it’s like any other technology or social construct – try to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

  2. Ha! I have a flip phone and still curse the ever-presentness of social media technology. Sort of. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who falls victim to the grass is greener syndrome. BUT I will say as long as I don’t beat myself up with my lack of comparable awesomeness, it does push me to do more instead of sitting at home and watching Two and Half Men reruns:-) I also don’t have a problem shutting everything off and disappearing for a week, either.

  3. Oh yes: I *totally* get this. With moving back home and most of my friends still being in London or Manchester, I can be FOMO-ed out of my tiny little mind. But I agree with Caterina’s comment that it’s usually a symptom of something else being out of whack.
    The way I’m dealing with it is by trying to strike some kind of balance. The problem has been that I’ve felt that social networking contact isn’t enough or isn’t ‘real’. But I’m soooo bad at just picking up the ‘phone. (I’m aware that it’s not just me: my friends also feel guilty about it!)
    My excuse has always been that I spend so much of my time on my laptop that I don’t want my social life to be conducted online. Yet that’s not adequate: my current situation requires me to be more socially proactive online so that’s what I’m trying at the moment 🙂

    Of course, it also feeds into procrastination. So… *cough* I’ll leave it there and get back to those funding applications. Ho hum.

  4. Love that last comment. We don’t have a home phone anymore just cell phones, but i sort of miss the old kitchen phone with the really long cord. Sigh. My kids won’t even know such things.

  5. Really really interesting comments! Thanks guys!  I really like hearing what you think about this stuff and i am really curious if anyone else feels completely and utterly overwhelmed by technology at times.

    Getting the balance right is soooo tricky and sometimes i feel like i am going to explode from trying to keep up with it all! I've been trying to cut back my time online but find it difficult coz:

    – my day job is internet marketing, so am knee-deep in internet all bloody day long
    – my small business is online, so if you don't go online you're neglecting it
    – i'm a big nerd and i love meeting & chatting to people online and i love the gadgetry and clever websites and all that jazz!

    but at the same time… i recently had four days offline while in paris i was amazed how it felt like a weight had been lifted, my mind was so much clearer, my heartbeat seemed to be slower almost! ideas were flowing… and not just coz i was in paris. just from my brain trying to do less things at once.

    There's a middle ground around here somewhere 🙂

  6. @Kerri – Those were the days! A phone call felt like a real event back then. That anticipation when it rang… who could it beeeee? And the total lack of privacy with family members earwigging on your calls! 🙂

  7. Very interesting topic to think about. Am not going to add anything deep to the conversation…I am far too immature minded and tired at this late hour…I just can’t believe no one else has laughed at and pondered just what exactly ‘intense sausage conversations’ entail and whether or not they are actually linked to the aforementioned burning meat products!

  8. I quit Facebook (for the second time) and Twitter partially because of FOMO-ing. I thought long and hard about the weird compulsion to check for updates. Once I broke down the constant feed of 95% of my ‘friends’, it was a matter of D-GAS (Don’t Give A S..ausage) in the vast majority. Not in a cold, callous way … but the minutiae was really clutter for my mind. I found it helped me be a lot more present in what counted (real life. Like real real life).

    xx

  9. OH
    so interesting and though provoking!
    and insightful (for me to me :)) that what I see isnt really the ‘everyone else is off partying and frolicking and playing’ but everyone else is still WORKING and Im done/Ive hung it up for the day.

    I guess thats just indicative of the lens through which I view life huh? 🙂

    when I yank the cord and am present and reading in my pjs Im so so so blissfully happy the thoughts of others OUT and LIVING IT UP makes me evern more happy to be snuggled with the kindle in the domicile.

    call me IntrovertAtHeart McGee?

  10. So interesting! I’m TAKING UP Facebook for Lent. I am the sort of person who has never done social media. However, I’ve been told that as a writer, I’m supposed to have ‘a presence’ on the internet so that when I finish my next book, someone might notice and buy it. I’ve been amazed how easily I’ve slipped into the Facebook habit. I can see how it might be hard to give up, like smoking. I sit up later at night, and my eyes feel more tired than usual – all that extra screen time. It feels like it won’t be long before I’m completely hooked and I’ll to do a sort of Facebook Detox to get my screen-free time back again. (That is, the time I used to spend pottering about in the kitchen or writing longhand or reading a novel.)

  11. I fear I don’t suffer enough from FOMO. As I’m pushing the excercise-envelope these days, I’m more in the grip of Friday Night FACDMBPWVS(‘Fear of Anyone Calling to Disturb My Blessed Post-Workout Vegetative State on the Sofa’) Something tells me that phrase won’t catch on quite like ‘FOMO’ though…

    And modern telephones have really taking the joy out of the good old childhood prank of calling your classmates in distorted voices and claiming you’re a journalist and interview them about their experience with itchy underwear. Oh well, maybe progress is a good thing…

  12. The thing is, too- that most people “play a character” on their Facebook, etc. Like you’re wheeling your garbage to the curb and your next door neighbor says “hi” and comes over and you’re chatting, then another neighbor is walking the dog and stops for a bit– On Facebook it suddenly turns into “fun little block party in the neighborhood- talked to some great people! I love this place..” It sounds so much better than “wheeled the garbage to the curb. Fred came out and asked if we were going to trim the trees. Then Joe came by and told us how he’s lost weight since he got a dog.” Not quite as much “Zazz”….
    Speaking of phones- I will never forget the central phone and my mother saying “It’s a BOY! Calling for YOU!” and it was my band director calling me to come early for sectional practice. Oh, the embarrassment!

  13. Thanks for sharing more great links and ideas – I love the FOMO – but I actually have been thinking along the opposite lines – the equivalent of Bridget Jones smug marrieds – the feeling that we are very lucky to have a roof over our heads and our family with us because the international and social media nature of news means that all these recent disasters seem so very real to us. Perhaps FOMO hits younger people more and diminishes as we grow older and realise it could be a lot lot worse!

  14. I was just talking with my mum this morning about all the things the internet allows us to do these days… it taught my sister to knit (something mum had never succeeded in), its about to allow me (in Australia) to learn to run from a trainer in Italy (yay!!)… but it seems a shame to me if we forget that there are other ways to do things too. There IS still valuable knowledge that exists outside the scope of googling, and interactions beyond facebook 🙂
    I have a facebook account and a limited number of friends. They are the kind of friend that I’ve known for years, and though only see every year or so (I live in another state) they will always be good friends. Knowing every time they go out to a party is probably overkill, but I find facebook keeps them in my consciousness and a little closer than they would be otherwise.
    Every now and then I’ll be going to bed and realise that I haven’t been online that day… its not all that often, but it is nice to know that the internet helps me to connect to certain parts of my life, but is not as essential as say, breathing.
    I teach high school kids and worry sometimes that they do see the mobile phone/internet connectedness as an Absolute Must at All Times of Day/Night. Phones are not allowed (ha ha) in class, but if a kid gets a message they don’t see it as possible to wait ten minutes til lunchtime to get their phone out to read it. To them the instantaneous connectedness is a must. They have to constantly be a participant in this great social network in the sky… I think its a little sad if they can’t feel complete or don’t know how to cope without it.
    I guess its something about balance, using these tools to our benefit without being controlled by them… sometimes I get it right.

  15. I can respect the fact that social media and internet does rule our (my) life. I am in a transition of finding me again, and I find that I leave it a little behind the more I find me. I need the constant reassurances that someone liked my photo or my posts a little less every day. It is a good thing. I am slowly leaving my “online life” online, and finding a true happiness in every day…. yet ask me to give up my blog obsession, NO WAY!! The fitness blogs and other reads keep me interested in recharging me! Plus, they are cheaper than a smut magazine! lol

  16. This post reminds me of a buddhist saying “When you eat, EAT” – i.e. you are eating, don’t read a book, magazine, back of the cereal packet, sit in front of daytime tv, and that is mindfullness — this post to me Shauna, is MINDFULLNESS

  17. Love this! I have social media burnout and consider “running away” pretty much every day. And yet for all the times it brings me down, it also has a very powerful way of lifting me up too. I’m a person who needs other people… although I should look into that ’70’s phone idea!!

  18. I´ve tried keeping in touch with people entirely through Skype, but the time differences made it hard. That and the fact that most of my friends don’t log on very often. So, for me, Facebook is a lifeline to people back home. Also, I´m a dancer, and there are many, many dance events, classes, etc. that are only advertised as Events on Facebook.

    I must admit, though, that I feel a kind of social obligation to “like” people’s statuses and posts, write encouraging things on their performance videos and post birthday greetings on their walls. I also use Facebook as a way of reminding people who aren’t really friends, but are potential dance partners, students, business contacts, etc. of my existence. All those things make it very easy to waste time online. But my pet hate is people who use Facebook chat to talk to you when you are in the same city and could just meet up in person.

    However, I don’t think I could survive without my Facebook chats with my lovely friend Ingrid, who is literally on the other side of the world. And several of my Tokyo friends logged on to Facebook, updated their status and even chatted online the instant they got their electricity back. Those are the moments when I am really happy about Facebook.

  19. Read this blog today and made me think about your post and the ability to enjoy the here and now.

    link to life-edited.blogspot.com

    Especially the exerpt towards the end of the post.

    We are constantly being told how to define a well lived life but it really is all in our heads.

  20. Thank you everyone for your thoughts on this one!

    @Judy – Lovely post! And the lawnmower pic at the end is priceless 🙂

  21. Nothing like a major earthquake to hit home the fact of what it’s like with no social media, or the basics like power, water and sewerage….

    Life takes on a whole lot more of a basic tone and you realise that some of the good old things really were GOOD. In a recent power cut I couldn’t phone my neighbour because all our phones are cordless power run types….. would have killed for a good old dial one.

    On the other side of the fence, a lot of people could still access Facebook from their cells after the earthquake and that made it easier to let the massess know that you were okay, not under a pile of rubble.

  22. Once the power came back on after the quake, it was suprising how many people told me that they had enjoyed the lack of technology. It was quite nice to be sitting my candle-light, no tv, cooking in groups at the BBQ, no entertainment except for guitars and .. talking to each other, seeing the stars without any interference, experiencing actual quiet.I’m sure the novelty wore off for those that still don’t have power, but for us, a few days was not that bad at all.

  23. frisky and mannish shauna! google them, youtube them, you will laugh, and that is mindfulness and you can add them to your friday link feast – i am not pimping them, they just made me giggle xxx

  24. Heh, there is something ironic in having that row of media share icons (fb among others) at the bottom of this post! That said…true, all true.