Social media changes in a day and age of COVID-19 social distancing

Once upon a time, in a day and age of Facebook, Instagram, and social media, when everyone wants everyone else to know what they are doing and thinking at all times (what am I wearing today? >> OOTO, aka “outfit of the day,”; where am I traveling to? What am I reading (news articles, features, books, etc.); what am I celebrating? Who am I dating? How much do I love my mom that I need to write a really gushy, overly affectionate post about her on Mother’s Day?), we lived in an era of FOMO, aka “fear of missing out.” That person is getting engaged or married, so why am I single? All my colleagues are getting pregnant, so why am I not having a baby? My friend seems to be on a holiday around the world every two months; where do they get that kind of money and time off, and why can’t I have that life?! Because of social media, many of us have been left feeling even more lonely (as ironic as that sounds), as though our lives aren’t measuring up because of all the fancy and amazing posts those we know are posting. Our lives suck in comparison. WHY IS THIS THE CASE?

But now, fast forward to today, or rather, in the U.S., the last six weeks. Anyone who lives in a city that has leadership that actually cares about them is enforcing social distancing and sheltering in place. This means that there’s really no more FOMO anymore, unless “FOMO” means you are jealous of what someone is making for dinner, how much more bubbly your friend’s sourdough starter is, or the fact that your colleague somehow was insanely productive the last six weeks and nearly mastered piano/Japanese/doing the splits/something else that generally takes a lot of time, energy, and perseverance. No one is traveling the world. No one is going on crazy business trips to exotic places. No one is running marathons. No one is having some lavish first birthday party complete with a professional photographer, videographer, caterer, and balloon artist. No one is getting married because the courthouses are closed (the engagements are still happening, but well….).

All of that has been replaced with FOGO, or “fear of going out.” If we go out, will our friends, family, and colleagues judge us? If we leave our houses, will we get coughed on or catch the Coronavirus just by touching a shopping cart at Wegman’s or Trader Joe’s? If we get takeout or delivery from our favorite restaurant, are we actually helping a small business survive, or are we putting their workers more at risk for catching the virus?

All of social media is now: comparing grocery hauls and what we were able to buy or not buy (“Duane Reade ran out of toilet paper!” “THERE’S NO MORE DRY ACTIVE YEAST OR FLOUR AT Whole Foods!” “OMG, I finally scored a dozen eggs on my fifth try at Trader Joe’s!” Oh, and there’s also the super Type As who are being crazy productive, doing home improvements like rearranging furniture and redecorating, creating make-shift home offices that look like they came out of a Pottery Barn catalog, and those who have started the most intense art projects ever (mosaics made out of pistachio shells, wine bottle corks, and recycled colorful paper, anyone?).

If life ever returns to “normal” again, how will that new “normal” be redefined, and how long will FOGO return back to FOMO?

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