Stunning beaches, azure seas, exotic cocktails, and lots and lots of sun. The flood of summer holiday snaps into our social feeds has begun, as it does every year. Your friends/colleagues/family members have jetted off to warmer destinations to have the time of their lives. You, however, are stuck at the office, hoping the rain will stop long enough for you to dash out and buy cat food. This is my own current, ultra-glamorous situation. And one shared by countless others, although specific circumstances may vary. We’ve been told summer is for fun and friendship. That we need to make the most of the weather, the free time, the ‘good vibes’. But we can’t always do that, and we’re left watching others have their #BESTSUMMEREVER!! That’s when the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) creeps in, dampening our days more than the rain.

Everyone is having more fun than you. Their socials say so.

Social media has conditioned us to broadcast the highlights of our lives online. The impulse to show the world that you’re having an incredible time is hard to squash. So up go holidays, parties, interesting hobbies and delicious food. We work hard as humans to present ourselves to others in a certain way. Social media has provided us with a way to ‘enhance’ this. It’s too easy to make our lives look much better than they really are. Even knowing that everything on social media is fake or exaggerated doesn’t save us from experiencing FOMO. A poll from Cosmopolitan UK found that 74% of respondents experiences FOMO more over the summer months, exacerbated by what they see on social media.

Travel is the obvious FOMO activator, and a massive source of social media ‘content’, but many less extravagant activities can also cause it. Looking at an influencer’s new summer wardrobe, for example, when you can’t afford to replace your hole-filled trainers. Or maybe you’re incredibly busy at work, slogging for long hours whilst your friends knock-off early for Aperol-Spritzes and tapas. You watch it all happen without you.

What’s keeping you from having the ‘Best Summer Ever!!’?

Generally the FOMO is worse when there’s something specific in your life holding you back from having a good time. This could be a variety of things. For example there’s the financial aspect, as we can see with the above examples. Many countries still have a cost-of-living crisis and things like travel and going out have vastly increased in price over recent years. People are feeling the pinch; struggling to afford essentials, let alone luxuries. Seeing others flaunting their wealth online this summer hurts.

Then there’s the epidemic of loneliness being experiences by young and old alike. “Research from the Office for National Statistics found that one million people aged 16 to 29 experience ‘chronic loneliness'” reports Cosmopolitan UK. Lonely people can get stuck in a painful loop: heading to social media for company but seeing pictures and videos of people socialising, making the loneliness and FOMO worse. Fun summer activities can feel a lot less fun when you have no one to do them with.

People can also be held back by mental and/or physical health problems, or caring for someone with them, limiting activity and travel. Even the weather can ruin your plans, be it too cold/damp/hot/dry/etc. The perfect summer is hard to achieve. But we don’t need to. By rewriting our expectations we can have satisfying and enjoyable summer, even if it’s not perfect.

Here’s some tips to not have the worst summer ever:

  • If you can’t get away on a holiday, become a tourist in your local. People miss out on “touristy” experiences where they live because they don’t see them through the eyes of a traveler. See what museums have exhibitions on, or what historical monuments you can have a nosy around. Just googling “things to do in —-” should give you plenty of ideas.
  • Summer is when routines tend to crumble. Offices empty as people take holidays, schools go on break and day to day life becomes more varied. If it’s routine that brings you peace, put in extra effort to keep it up. Replace work/schoolwork with a craft or a skill: a project you can use to fill your day. Eat meals at your usual times. Keep up your regular exercise. Don’t let warmer weather disrupt your life.
  • If you’re missing people to hang out with, hang out with yourself! You can have amazing experiences solo. Solo travelling bloggers are extremely popular, and give good advice and realistic expectations. You can also go smaller scale. Take yourself to dinner, on that hike, to that art class you’ve been wanting to do. We don’t need others around to enrich your life.
  • There is a limit to loneliness though. Whilst everybody feels lonely at some point, chronic loneliness can be damaging to our wellbeing. In this case, it’s time to seek help from organisations like Campaign to End Loneliness who give advice on battling loneliness in the UK. Similar organisations exist internationally, and you can also speak directly to your doctor or a therapist. Volunteering and joining clubs can also help. What definitely doesn’t help though is scrolling social media.
  • My last tip is to use LifeBonder. LifeBonder’s goal is to fight the negative impact social media has had on the world. By joining people together based on their location and interests, and encouraging in-person meetings, LifeBonder will help us to build meaningful relationships. Find someone to make summer memories with that are more real than anything you’ll see on social media.

Polly Cumming

Polly Cumming is a British literary graduate keen on writing about human existence in this moment in time. She's thrilled to see some positive change in the world of social media.