A creative’s guide to ditching FOMO and social media comparison

We're spending more time than ever in front of screens and devices, so how do you wind back and stop comparing you life to others on social media?

Our world has changed significantly since the advent of social media. It connects us to like-minded individuals, broadens our perspectives, and allows us to grow an audience for our work as creatives.

And while social media is a fantastic tool for these reasons, as you scroll through your Instagram feed or catch up on Facebook, it can be very easy to experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out); comparing yourself and your achievements to what you see on your screen. 

Perhaps you wonder why you’re not at a certain point in your creative career, or have been using other people’s experiences and successes as a benchmark for your own achievements. 

Thankfully, you’re not alone in this: Melissa G. Hunt, one of the authors of a University of Pennsylvania study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology says, ‘when you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.’

So how can you ditch FOMO and comparison on social media and get back to enjoying happy, healthy interactions online (especially when using social media to promote your creative endeavours)? Here are a few ways to kick comparisons to the curb and feel good about your social media presence again:

Remember everyone’s journey is different

It can be so difficult not to compare your career progress or goals to your peers when you see glowing photos on Instagram or Facebook posts celebrating their latest award or acknowledgement. The bottom line is this: everyone’s journey is different

For instance, if you’re a filmmaker and you’re seeing your fellow filmmakers winning awards or attending events you’d chew your arm off to be at, don’t forget that they may be at a different career point to you. You might be at year five of your journey, but they’re at year ten. Their goals might also be wildly different from yours, so your path will take you to destinations that you can’t even imagine right now.

Catch up with people that don’t live on your screen

Roadie, anyone? 

Social media makes it so easy for us to quickly send a message to friends or family instead of meeting face to face, but sometimes catching up with the people you love offline can be exactly what you need. Schedule a coffee date with a friend, pop over to your Mum’s place or schedule a short road trip with besties. Right now we have to bear in mind what’s happening with COVID-19, so if you’re in a place where face-to-face contact is impossible, think about having a virtual catch-up over Zoom or a phone call.

People are like icebergs

It’s really important to bear in mind that social media is very much a curated version of our realities; a version that tends to lean towards the positives and not the negatives. Like the tip of the iceberg sticking out above the water, we only see a fraction of their lives: it’s basically just a ‘highlight reel’- you have no idea what’s been left on the cutting room floor at any given time.

Mindfulness helps

We spend so much of our day automatically responding to stimuli, and that includes our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness and meditation can be a huge help when it comes to those thoughts of FOMO and comparison. There are lots of resources available to help, including mindfulness and meditation apps.

Write out a ‘have done list’ 

Sometimes we spend so much time looking at the achievements of others that we forget just how much we have achieved ourselves! It’s common to make ‘to-do lists’…but what about a ‘have one list’? You can choose to examine all of the things you’ve achieved this year, or look at what you’ve achieved in your creative career – it’s entirely up to you. You’ll find that you’ve achieved more than you give yourself credit for.

Reduce your time on social media temporarily

It can be difficult to step away from social media completely, especially when your creative enterprise relies on it, so if you’re feeling FOMO or comparing yourself it can be beneficial to reduce your time on social media for a bit. It can help you get your equilibrium back. 

What can you do during the times you’d normally be online? Declutter a room, do some goal stalking, or catch up on some podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to. Creating art for art’s sake can also be incredibly therapeutic! 

Social media is so beneficial when it comes to assisting creative careers, so feeling good about the process and your interactions is paramount. Implement these hints and tips should help you bounce back and feel good about your own creative path.

The article was first published by The Big Idea (NZ).
Lynnaire Macdonald
About the Author
Lynnaire Macdonald is a publicist and social media marketer and the founder of Film Sprites PR, a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for film. Film Sprites PR has worked with filmmakers in the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada since 2014.