Snapchat is fueling fear of missing out (FOMO)

Snapchat has become one of the most popular social media outlets since its inception, allowing users to communicate through temporary photos and video clips. While there was, as with any new method of communication, the boom and now steady stream of nudes and sexts, the app has mostly taken hold as a chance to show off the daily lives of its users, be it mundane or extraordinary.

While it’s certainly an understandably fun and addictive social media outlet, it has some questionable implications – and I’m not referring to the sexual element of it. In fact, given that the pictures and videos are lost after being played and that the medium is mostly visual, sex-snapping is just about the only reasonable aspect of Snapchat.

Rather, I’m referring to the unhealthy misconception that social media tends to breed in its users, especially Snapchat – that anyone cares what you’re doing.

First off, there’s the everyday, ridiculously boring Snapchats everyone sends. Walking to class? Better tell everyone. Oh, you cooked dinner for yourself? You special little snowflake. You own a vape? Sick bro, show off your sick clouds to the world.

About 80 percent of all Snapchat stories is just boring crap like this. It’s just a series of glorified selfies with some illusion of action happening, and yet the views stack up, strengthening that very illusion.

Snapchat is fooling the boring into believing they’re living lives that are somehow enthralling in their typicality, while playing off some kind of inverse FOMO that makes us think that everyone must know what we’re doing at all times. And, on the subject of FOMO, the opposite case – that people are doing cool things and showing it off on Snapchat – can be just as toxic for both the creator and the viewer.

On the sender’s side, you have hordes of people focusing more on getting the perfect snap of something than actually appreciating the event in front of them; you focus on capturing a moment in your favorite song at a concert so much that you miss it. The end result is that you have a lot of people just going to popular events for the express sake of telling their friends they did it, with little appreciation for the event itself.

Then, you have the viewer, mindlessly flipping through their story, watching the so-called stories that are the uninteresting lives of others. Regardless of whether they are boring or fascinating, it’s just fueling people’s FOMO, giving them the fear that they aren’t living as interestingly as their Snapchat sluts. Nothing makes you wish you shelled out that extra dough for a ticket to Coachella than seeing everyone you know take a selfie from Indio.

This is not to blame Snapchat, of course – they have a smart and successful product. But as users, we need to make sure that we aren’t falling into the trappings of envy and vanity that can come with a product like Snapchat.