2019 Spring Amideast External Programs Gwen Jensen Morocco

Breaking Up With My #FOMO


fear of missing out

[foh-moh] or [feer uh v mis-ing out]

FOMO, or fear of missing out, has been my kryptonite long before the dawn of the internet, which has exacerbated this phenomenon into a millennial pandemic. In 2019, one need not wonder what their friends may or may not be up to without them: the click of an app, a brief check of the ‘Snap Map,’ or any other social media can conclusively diagnosis one with a bad case of FOMO.

At home, I often was caught up in this never ending cycle of checking and rechecking social media, then comparing the lives of my peers, celebrities, and the strange conglomeration of both–Instagram influencers–to my own seemingly boring life. Therefore, I was stuck entrapping myself in the web of FOMO.

Contrary to my pre-departure beliefs, going halfway across the world is not the ultimate cure for FOMO. During my semester abroad, my FOMO has morphed into a different breed than that which haunts me in the U.S.

Living in a Muslim-majority country, ‘going out’ is a much different ordeal than that which is broadcasted across my phone screen. FOMO frequently rears its head on the weekends, when my phone broadcasts the type of fun which is just non existent in Morocco. However, being abroad has been a humbling experience in this way. Being quite literally an ocean away from the plans which are plastered across my phone screen has finally helped me accept one of the hardest pills to swallow for much of our generation: life goes on without you.

The game goes both ways however; while my friends at home and at school continue their lives without me, I was shocked to realize that my life does the same. Living the past two, almost three, months without data, and forced to rely on the spotty WiFi of internet cafes has forced a cold turkey break up with my FOMO: a blossoming relationship with myself.

Without the constant comparison to others plastered in every corner of my phone, acting as a vortex sucking me into the symptoms of FOMO, I have had the opportunity to experience life without the pressures to share every detail of the good experiences, but rather bask in their simplicity and the intimacy which occurs when Snapchat isn’t the third wheel between you and the experience.

This is not a rejection of social media in the slightest, and in no way am I ready to renounce my social media dependency. However, this post is meant to serve as a celebration of my return to taking pictures, going places, and doing things for me instead of being tied to the thirst for likes and retweets. I took a lot of photos during my spring break trip to Egypt, but most of them have remained unshared: a two second video from a taxi ride in Cairo would mean nothing to followers, but for me serves as a reminder of a moment in time that no caption could describe.

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