You're finally in bed after a long day at work, tapping through Snapchat stories and scrolling your Instagram and Facebook feeds before going to sleep. Your screen quickly fills with your best friends photos of their stunning trip to Italy. You browse your way through a series of brief videos of some old college friends, laughing with a “NYC Nights” geotag sticker floating above their smiling faces. By the time you scroll past several “I got the job!” and “We’re engaged!” Facebook statuses, you find yourself feeling frustrated as those familiar thoughts creep back into your head:

I’m missing out.

Everyone’s life is better than mine.

Everyone has their shit together, except me.  

We’ve all been there. Looking through an endless feed of grinning faces and success stories can make it seem like everyone else is living these amazing lives. It can leave you feeling some serious FOMO -- spiking feelings of anxiety and even depression when comparing those posts to your everyday routine. But let’s take a step back for a second.

How much of their lives are you actually seeing?

One of my favorite professors from undergrad used the word “highlight reel” to describe what people share of their lives on social media. This really put how much of people’s lives we see on our feeds in perspective for me. What you see on Facebook and Instagram is the best parts -- the highlights -- of people’s lives. We don’t tend to share the mundane or challenging aspects of our lives on social media. Can you imagine how different you would feel scrolling on Facebook if your feed was full of only the bad things that happened day to day?

It can still be challenging to remember we’re only seeing a portion of people’s lives on social media when we spend so much time scrolling. So here are 3 self reminders I have found helpful when experiencing social media-induced FOMO:

1. All I See is the Highlight Reel

People share the best things happening to them on social media. They don’t tend to post the boring, the mundane, or the hardships they experience. So I’m only seeing a part of their lives -- the best part

2. It’s Not Realistic

When people post on Facebook or Instagram, they have endless time to edit photos and revise or rewrite captions. Most of the things I see on my feed are quite frankly, not how they appear in real life. 

3. "Comparison is the Thief of Joy"

This quote by Teddy Roosevelt proves to be more relevant than ever in the world of social media. If I notice I’m starting to compare my everyday life with the unrealistic, highlight reel of my feed I put my phone down and write down things I am grateful for in my own life. This last self reminder has been especially helpful for me.

If you continue to find yourself struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression about social media or other areas of life, it may be beneficial to speak with a counselor. If you're interested in working with us, contact Charlotte Counseling and Wellness.

Hope Hellwege-Bales