Last night I went to the theatre. Yes, I had a lovely time, thank you for asking.
This morning I had a medical appointment. Nothing serious, but somewhat less exciting than last night’s excursion.
Just now I spent an embarrassingly long time catching up on all the social media I’d missed over the last 24 hours due to these two engagements. I can tell you that it rated somewhere between the theatre and my medical appointment in terms of enjoyment. It absolutely felt like a chore rather than a pleasure, and yet I was compelled to scroll through IG and FB, right back until I started to recognise things I was sure I’d already seen. And let me tell you, even though you may not have been on IG for 24 hours, a lot of other people have. So why did I do it? Simple: fear of missing out (or FOMO if you’re one of those youth types).
I didn’t want to miss some brilliant Facebook post, or seeing a gorgeous make on IG. Worse still, what if I missed an amazing giveaway?! But you know what? The brilliant Facebook posts will be shared time and time again, the gorgeous makes on IG will be replaced by more gorgeous makes tomorrow and unless they’re giving away time, there’s nothing I really need to be given for free.
Fear of missing out doesn’t only apply to social media. I joined a bee last week because I saw that all my closest quilty friends were doing it and I didn’t want to be the only one not involved. My local Modern Quilt Guild have had four sit and sew days since I joined and I’ve not been able to make a single one of them, so now I feel like I’m missing out on the great relationships that have been formed in that group. And don’t even get me started on swaps!
The quilting community is fabulous, but it’s also utterly addictive. Social media is where we hang out together; bees and swaps are where we have the fulfilling pleasure of making something for someone who REALLY appreciates it; and sit and sew days are as pee-your-pants exciting to us as a birthday party is to a 7 year old. There’s no denying that these are all excellent and important ways for us to spend our time. But, as when our knees are buckling under the weight of the fabric bolts in our arms at our local quilt shop, there’s a point at which we have to tell ourselves “that’s enough”.
Next time you’re tempted by another new bee or swap that’s popped up in your IG feed, ask yourself… “Is there someone else in my life who needs my love and attention more than a random stranger right now?” (And it’s perfectly okay for the answer to this question to be “Yes, me.”)
When a sit and sew day is arranged for a time when you already have a prior engagement with family or friends, remind yourself “There’ll be another sit and sew day.”
And most importantly, when you’re next scrolling endlessly through IG or FB, stop for a moment, look around you and see who deserves your attention far more than the screen in front of you.
Because the real fear should be missing out on our children before they grow up; our parents before they grow frail; our friends before they grow tired; our partners before they grow apart.
One of my resolutions for 2017 is to have “Turn It Off Tuesday”, where I don’t engage with any social media for a full day each week. Writing that down sounds ridiculous – how difficult can it be to stay off IG and FB for a day? But it’s become such a habit for us to pick up our phones and scroll whenever we’re bored, waiting, or worst of all, actually in the company of other people. For at least one day a week I want to break that habit and engage with the world and people around me instead. Because I fear I’m missing out.
aka The Baroness