Mind the Gap! FOMO, Facebook Depression and Mindfulness: Day 18 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
From Friday 19th January, everyday for 40 days, I will be sharing something each day that has either (1) changed my way of thinking or perspective, (2) helped me get through a challenging period of transition, change or growth, or (3) changed my life for the better. I've called it '40 Days of Growth'. I'd love it if you followed along with me on this journey - contributing what has also helped you to learn, grow and change. And, if I can support you on your own learning journey, please do let me know 😃
Mind the Gap! FOMO, Facebook Depression and Mindfulness
Day 18 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
In this blog I'll share one of the ideas that I talk about with students in my mindfulness classes that altered my perspective when I first learned about it. The idea is about 'minding the gap', being aware of our experiences and having greater presence and acceptance with the reality of our lives. I also believe that this is an important concept for people to be aware of with thousands more people coming online every day - especially important with the creation of terms like 'Facebook Depression' and 'FOMO' (Fear of Missing Out).
Mind the Gap!
Have you ever caught a train and seen the words written on the platform's edge "MIND THE GAP" often with yellow paint showing the edge? They're often said over the loud speaker too. The words are there for a purpose: to save people from the danger of injury of falling down the gap.
In my mindfulness classes I like to use this memorable analogy to describe how easy it is for people (myself included at times) to get 'caught in the gap' of comparing their current life with someone else's life and feeling unhappy about it. It's a POWERFUL analogy for life! I teach this concept in classes about how mindfulness can help with feeling happier in our lives - rather than focusing on what we don't have or how Bob down the street has a better car or house than us - when we practise noticing our present experience we become more present and feel more accepting of it.
Essentially, when we become truly aware of the precious opportunities of our own lives rather than getting caught up in stories of how we think we should be living, what we should be looking like and what we should be having, then we become happier and really live our own lives! Simplistically said, but true.
FOMO and Facebook Depression
A thought of mine is whether the rise of anxiety and depression amongst young people is linked or correlated with the advent of the internet and the rise of social media usage. If anyone knows of studies about this I'd LOVE to know about them.
An example linked to the 'mind the gap' concept above is the power of Facebook and other social media platforms to make us feel less happy with our lives.
Have you ever had the experience of having a nice day on Saturday only to come home, scroll through your Instagram feed and see that one of your friends had a MORE fun-looking day? If you have, how did it make you feel about your own day? Did it help you keep the same happiness levels or did it dampen your experience?
There are terms for the experience of feeling less satisfied with your own life by looking at others' lives on social media: Facebook Depression, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out/anxiety).
The reality is that social media does not show the reality of our lives - it shows our highlight reels, the best 5-10% of our experiences and snapshots/moments in time. I certainly don't post all my day on social media - you don't see me making my breakfast, walking to work, reading or sleeping (that would be creepy!!)
I guarantee that a person's life is NOT what it is like on Facebook or Instagram for the whole day - who can hold a tricky yoga pose all day? Who spends all day with a perfect face of makeup? Who can actually afford to spend their whole life on holiday on a tropical island?
Reality check: No. One. Can! (caveat: there may be one or two who are super-humans who can hold a tricky yoga pose all day... Kudos to them!)
The key to this idea is bringing awareness to the fact that social media does not equate to real life and the dangers of getting 'caught' in the gap of comparing your real life with another person's highlights reel! Were you born with an Instagram filer on? I certainly wasn't! :)
Because of Facebook Depression some past founders of social media are now leading the charge of working on design solutions that help people get out of this. There are real concerns about the addictiveness of technology (e.g. people checking their phones sometimes at least 100 times a day!) SOURCES.
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
The nature of the human condition: we were born imperfect. We make mistakes. We fall down. Sometimes, like babies, we do 'doo doos'. We weren't born with filters. Yet, we compare our everyday lives to the curated images and filtered lives of those on TV, movies and social media. Ugh.
This is why one of my favourite quotes is: COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY. Think about it. It feels like I have this quote tattooed on the back of my eyelids - it is so front and centre for me. It makes me think of what I am grateful for in my own life and what progress I am making each day, rather than focusing on what I don't 'have' in my own life. Does this resonate?
Questions for you
How can we spend more time 'in' our every day life rather than comparing our life to that of curated-Instagram-lives? How do you 'unplug' from technology? I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts in the comments section below! :)