Lost at Sea: Sinking Ships and The Fear of Missing Out

by: Erin Gaus

One day this past week, as I was laying on the couch lazily scrolling through my Instagram feed, my three-year-old sprawled next to me watching his daily hour of screen time (snicker), I landed on an image that was so perfect, so staged, so brilliantly filtered and posed and perfect that it just had to be the centerpiece of that person’s insta-existence. Captivated, I clicked through to the user profile to find image after image of the same meticulously crafted scenes; a girl standing crossed-legged, her floppy and stylish hat cocked just so, a cup of tea on a pristine white tablecloth with a perfectly manicured hand resting at the edge of the shot, a stage of well-placed and carefully chosen items. What a beautiful life portrayed in these portraits. Gasp. She has 17K followers! She posts multiple times a day!

“Shit, she must be exhausted”, I said, and my three-year-old looked earnestly up at me and said sweetly “Why you say ‘shit’ mommy?”

While my spectacular parenting fails are a post for another day, I can say I succeed in leaving FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in the dust. As a freelancing Social Media Strategist I spend so many hours not only looking at people’s feeds for inspiration, but crafting perfect content for clients myself. I am painfully aware of the time involved in “creating a brand”. The thing is, these days branding isn’t limited to businesses. Personal feeds are brimming with happy statuses, photo shopped selfies and that “perfect” family shot (that was likely one of 100). A viewer can easily allow the real, “in-between” moments to vanish into the warped curves carved by the clipping tool. Instead of serving the purpose of drawing attention to the poster, these status updates begin to focus attention inward, to our own perceived failures; “Look at how much weight she’s lost! I’m so fat”, “She’s pregnant AGAIN and I’m not?”, “I wish we could afford a vacation.”

So, what happens when FOMO becomes insidious? What happens when it begins to creep into all aspects of our lives and we find ourselves breathless and teetering at the edge of our sanity as we just try to stay above water?

We bail out the boat.

It’s easier than you think, and most importantly, you’re the one in control. Here’s a spoiler:

  • Absorb
  • Accept
  • Engage
  • Move On
  • Kick Ass

I’m an expert boat-bailer. A no-nonsense one. Being on social media all day, every day, as part of my job means I can’t let myself get sucked down. So, over the next weeks and months, I’m going to expand on those best practices for keeping the wind in your sails. See what I did there?

Stay tuned!

(When you visit me on Instagram @eringaus, remember that between that awesome photo of my son’s latest painting and the super-cool bubble video, I was cleaning up dog poop, wondering what was for dinner, and agonizing over a blog post that was long overdue)

Erin got her literal sea-legs at an early age on the choppy waters of Lake Erie. She finds the figurative waters of Social Media far more dangerous to navigate. She lives in Cranberry as a reluctant suburbanite with her husband David and their three-year-old son, and two little dogs who never stop barking. She is also a member of The ROKI CommunityYou can find her on Instagram and Twitter @eringaus, and can learn more about her Social Media Strategy services on her website, eringaus.com