Watching summer through a screen

Lily Bartin, features writer

It’s well past 12 p.m., you’ve been inside all day. The air conditioning is on full blast and you’re relaxing in your coziest sweats. You have no plans this summer. At first the freedom is peaceful. But day after day, you scroll through Instagram and your happiness starts to waver. With every sunny beach picture your sweats seem less appealing, and with each comment exclaiming “goals” on a friend’s trip abroad your house feels smaller. You develop a constant fear of missing out, or FOMO. Despite the growing heartache, you can’t stop scrolling. Your carefree summer is clouded by jealousy. Nothing you do seems good enough as you obsess over everything that you’re missing out on.

One could argue that summer is what you make of it, and you can have fun no matter your situation with the right mindset. The New York Times claims the best way to beat FOMO is to be confident in how you decide to spend your time. By being content with your summer plans, you can stop comparing your experiences to others. But for many high schoolers staying home for the summer isn’t personal preference. Rather the steep cost of vacationing, keeps them homebound. A recent American Press Center for Public Research, study suggests that one in five Americans can’t afford to travel this summer. On top of this, teenagers often have have summer jobs or take care of younger siblings while parents work. In reality, meeting the expectation of an Instagram worthy summer comes at a high price that not everyone can pay.

FOMO is a growing problem with the influence of social media. According to The Washington Post high schoolers spend an average of more than nine hours on social media a day over the summer, and 56 percent of social media users report feeling FOMO. It’s not hard to imagine why, one quick scroll through your Instagram feed and you’re bombarded by your peers smiling on sun drenched beaches with glowing tans. But however painful it can be, the content is addictive. There’s a certain guilty pleasure in tortmenting ourselves with snapshots of the summer we can’t have. It can be difficult to tear ourselves away, but it’s impossible to enjoy the things you actually can do when constantly comparing to others.

Summer break should be a time for students to get a break from the stress of the school year, but it comes with its own worries. So maybe you’re at home because you couldn’t afford that exotic trip abroad. You’re relaxing on your couch, not in the golden glow of a tropical beach. But you can still do the little things that you love, take joy in the opportunities you do have. Appreciate the peaceful days at home in your cozy sweats. Stop wasting time and energy on wishing you could be somewhere else. Don’t ruin your summer thinking the grass is greener on the other side of your phone screen, put down the phone and drop the FOMO.