The next time you are sitting at dinner, across from someone who is deeply engaged in their Facebook minifeed, I want you to rail on them so hard. I want you to tell them that they’re boring, and uninteresting, and awful, and that you came out tonight to see them, and not the top of their head, and that frankly, you’re offended. I want you to explain to them that there was once a time called “the 90s and everything that came before it” when cell phones did not exist in any kind of meaningful way, and that people were happy and fulfilled then.
Oh, you’re the person slowly scrolling your finger down the slick glass screen of a smartphone at nine p.m. on a Saturday evening? You’re the person clicking your way through an album called “Fall Fun with [insert trendy baby name]”? You’re refreshing Instagram chronically, with the hope that there will be one or two more images to load? Is the promise of seeing someone’s half-eaten quasi gourmet dinner that alluring? Maybe the hope that you will see a picture of their cat, or their new pair of high-heels?
Have you ever considered that maybe you have a technology addiction? No. That’s not possible. Its not an addiction. You need the phone for work, right? You have a very demanding job. Lots of emails, voicemails, text messages. You need that phone, because if you don’t have it, something might happen in the world and you might not know about it. Someone might text you back “OK” and you might not see it. What if you didn’t see it? What if two of your peripheral friends, who you aren’t super close with, but not super distant from, broke up and you didn’t see their relationship status change? It would be terribly embarrassing if you didn’t know within 15 minutes of it happening. What if someone is doing something way more fun/glamorous/awesome than whatever you are doing? What if other people have a better life than you?
Have you heard the acronym FOMO before? The Fear of Missing Out. I think you might be suffering from FOMO. See, here’s the thing: every minute you spend on your phone, reading a story on Huffington Post, or reading 37 restaurant reviews for the restaurant you’re currently eating at, is a minute you’re probably neglecting your ACTUAL life. I know sometimes its easy to blur real life and your virtual life, but most people have these things called real life friends. They’re different from Facebook friends, as these people exist in a tangible form and can talk. These people can even eat a meal with you, or shop for clothes with you. These people are part of your real life—the one you’re not actually living to its fullest.
I think it was the poet Drake who once said “YOLO”, another acronym you should remember. Now I know a lot of really stupid people are smoking crack and jumping off their roofs under the guise of YOLO, and that’s really annoying. But fundamentally, YOLO is true. You only live once. When you’re laying on your death bed, thinking about all of the terrible, regretful, awesome, amazing things you did, I promise that you won’t remember that one time you checked Twitter 47 times during your nephew’s birthday party. I promise you won’t remember squealing with glee when you found out your ex-boyfriend is having a baby with that girl he’s been dating for like, two months (he never wanted kids).
With that being said, even I can experience FOMO, despite my acute awareness of its existence. The next time you see me, sitting at a table, surrounded by friends, texting furiously and rapidly about nothing, I want you to walk up to me and say “Cortnye, you are the most boring, awful person in the world. Everyone at this table hates you right now, because you’re ignoring them and incessantly comparing yourself to other people you barely know.” I will inevitably grin sheepishly, put my phone down, and engage in conversation. Then, later in the evening, when I have had time to reflect a bit, I will make a Facebook status about you, and what an asshole you are. Welcome to the 21st century, I guess.