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Social Media and FOMO: Tips for Expats in Barcelona

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Social Media and FOMO: Tips for Expats in Barcelona

We all know the feeling: you’re at home on a Friday night, scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed or perhaps checking your Snapchats. You sit there for an hour, looking at photos of your friends hanging out, pictures of beautiful meals, and videos of parties. It seems like everyone is out having fun and living amazing lives, while you’re just sitting at home trying to decide what to watch on Netflix.

This phenomenon has a name: FOMO, or fear of missing out. According to Urban Dictionary, FOMO is “a form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.” Our brains commit a fallacy; when we see a series of posts that depict how great people’s lives are, we are led to believe that everyone around us is happy and having fun all the time, when in fact, we are really just looking at a highlight reel. People rarely post about a bad day or mundane activities. Yet we have trouble wrapping our minds around the fact that everyone else goes through hard times and the posts that people make on social media are only a snapshot of their reality.

This experience of FOMO is especially prevalent among expats. When it comes to traveling, the grass is often greener on the other side. While we’re home, we’re envious of all those who get to go off and travel…but when we’re traveling, we think back to what’s happening at home and worry that we might be missing out on that. Particularly in a place like Barcelona, people at home are probably, if anything, jealous that you get to be in such a beautiful city with so much to offer. They might assume that you’re having an amazing time and that your life there is perfect (particularly if you’re posting on social media about your new life.) However, from your perspective, you may be worrying about all the things you’re missing out on back home: parties, weddings, birthdays, or even just people changing and moving on with their lives.

Luckily, we have some tips to help expats who are experiencing FOMO:

First if all, know that it’s very normal to feel this way. Many people away from home go through this experience, even if they’re in an incredible place having a great time. Feelings like FOMO are often accompanied by guilt because those experiencing them feel that they should be appreciating where they are. Allow yourself to momentarily experience this sadness or stress without placing a value judgment on it.

It’s also important to prepare yourself for this feeling and be aware of what might trigger your FOMO. When you’re out with friends enjoying yourself, you’re less likely to worry about what might be happening back at home. However, when you’re by yourself on a Friday night, in a situation like that described in the first paragraph, the FOMO might begin to creep in. These feelings are much more likely to occur when you’re feeling sad or lonely, so prepare yourself for these times and have systems in place to help you take care of yourself. Perhaps this means not going on social media or leaving your phone in another room. Maybe you want to have some sort of activity planned for when you start to experience FOMO, like taking a nice long bath or reading a favorite book. By knowing your triggers and having routines, you’ll be more equipped to handle feelings of missing out or homesickness when they do come up.

When your FOMO gets bad, remember that it’s all relative. Like we mentioned above, the people back at home may in fact be having FOMO when looking at pictures of you and your travels! Social media can distort reality, making people’s lives seem much better than they actually are. When you start feeling sad while looking at pictures of a fun event, remember that there are plenty of perfectly normal days in these people’s lives that aren’t as exciting or are even bad.

Finally, remember you can use technology to benefit you and actually help with your FOMO! We are fortunate to live in a time where staying in touch with friends and family is easier than ever. With texting, Facetime, Skype, and other platforms, your loved ones are just a call or message away.  You can try scheduling regular calls or video chats with people back home so you don’t feel like you’re losing contact.

Realizing you can’t be a part of everything can be one of the hardest experiences an expat goes through. Remember that people change and friendships grow apart normally, even when you’re not in different countries! The people who are meant to be in your life will stay there, and those who leave can make room for new friendships to blossom and grow.

If you’re experiencing chronic FOMO, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and book a session with one of our trained therapists at Therapy in Barcelona.

By Claire Suisman

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Email: info@therapyinbarcelona.com
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