#englishonthesideFriday, April 21, 2017
Do you ever feel it?
For the Herald
It's called Fear of Missing out (FOMO), and it’s really not good for your kids.
Most of us live with the niggling (1) suspicion that everyone else is living a cooler life than our own, but social media makes sure you never forget it, bombarding us with images of other people’s joyful, exciting and connected existences 24/7 (2).
Adults tend to be less susceptible to its seductions, partly because they grew up in a time before social media and so still have a good grip on (3) the idea that life exists beyond a small screen, and partly because they just don’t care that much.
But kids and young adults, already going through the sort of hormonal and life changes that breed insecurity, can become entirely governed by the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO for the uncool uninitiated (4)) that social media puts at our fingertips.
Recently, the Australian Psychological Society conducted research into the effects of social media on wellbeing — with a particular emphasis on teenagers — and came up with some startling figures. They found teens who were heavy users of social media reported high levels of FOMO.
More than half the teens surveyed said they feared their friends were having more rewarding social experiences than them and almost two in three said they worried when they found out their friends were having fun without them and were bothered when they missed out on a planned get-together (5).
So what’s so bad about teens having FOMO, seeing as they already had a version of it pre-social media anyway? Quite a bit, says parenting expert Anna Partridge. “They’re struggling,” she says. “Anxiety and depression have increased because of their need to be more ‘in the group’ than we did.”
Lily, a mother of two teenage boys from Sydney, says she constantly worries about how heavy social media use affects her kids. “The 16-year-old spends every day at the gym,” she groans. She’s checked out his social feed and notices that lots of his friends look tanned and buff (6) but are noticeably less so in real life. “It’s amazing what you can do with a filter,” she says.
Another mum, Catherine, says she’s shocked by how much time her 15-year-old daughter spends mocking up (7) glamorous images of herself sitting by the pool in a bikini sipping an icy drink with her towel and headphones draped around her. “I know she’s trying to compete with the models and ‘cool girls’ in her Instagram feed,” Catherine says. “I tell her to remember that their dog is probably weeing on the plants just out of shot (8), just like hers is.”
Reality bites (9)
So how can you help your kids learn to keep boundaries between real life and online life — and understand the unreality of the latter?
Partridge has two top pieces of advice. For one, get your kids interested in something beyond socialising on a screen.
“Going to the shops with friends, getting a job, doing a sport, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as they love it,” she says.
Then, Partridge says, help them find their true community online and compare their lives with people who they could see themselves being friends with in their real life.
“The girls I talk to say they’d never be friends with the girls they follow on social media,” she says.
“They’re going to the cool girls’ sites, rather than finding their own tribe who might be into reading Harry Potter books or whatever.”
She encourages parents to tell their kids to find their real tribe online and then see if their lives really look so inadequate.
“If they wouldn’t be your real friend in real life, delete them,” she says.
Meanwhile, set some standards yourself. Your house doesn’t need to have a photogenic vignette in every corner. That Airbnb tree house would make a gorgeous picture but bear in mind if you stay in it, it will probably also have spiders.
Stop being part of the problem
NEWSFLASH: If a tree falls in the forest and no one uploads a picture of it on to Instagram, it still bloody (10) well fell down. You don’t have to record every experience in your life to prove that it happened.
Break your addiction to tending to (11) your online life before your real life by implementing “phone bans” — and yes, that even includes holidays, nature walks and brunch trips, and other temptingly Instagrammable opportunities.
Take a still, quiet moment to appreciate a beautiful flower … without whipping out your camera to cram its image into a square frame.
It’s good for your soul and an even better example for your kids.
Adapted from a story by Alexandra Carlton, Daily Telegraph
“To niggle” is to worry slightly, usually for a long time, to feel persistent annoyance or anxiety. I just can’t remember where we met, it’s been niggling me since I saw him at the meeting yesterday. By extension, the adjective “niggling” characterizing suspicion makes this latter sensation a constant worry. Even after his statement, there was a niggling doubt in the mind of the jurors.
This phrase has the adverbial function of time and it means all the time; the literal sense of the numbers being: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are open 24 /7. It may also appear before a noun, as in The hotel offers 24/7 internet access in every room.
“have a good grip on” (3)
When you have a (good) grip on something, you have control over it. The noun can be preceded by “tight,” “firm” or “strong.” In the second half, the home team took a firm grip on the game. The image can be used with different verbs, like “get,” “keep” a grip on something or “tighten” or “loosen” your grip on something. We need to tighten our grip on the market through a more aggressive publicity campaign.
“uncool uninitiated” (4)
When adjectives like these are preceded by “the” and are not followed by any noun, they point to groups of people that share the characteristic mentioned in the adjective. The noun that is omitted is always “people.” “The uncool” refers to that set of people who are embarrassing and not fashionable or sophisticated, as depicted by those who obviously believe in following the latest trends. “10 things that were uncool 15 years ago, but are super cool now” is a catchy headline for a listicle. “The uninitiated” is a humorous term that refers to people who are without knowledge or experience of a particular subject or activity. The debate between them two was not easy to follow for the uninitiated.
A get-together is an informal and usually small social gathering.
If a person is well-built, you may say they are “buff.” It is a slang term which means “having good muscle tone and physically fit. When it is used in combination with a topic or an activity, it refers to somebody who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject, as in computer / opera / Civil War buff.
“mocking up” (7)
This teenager in the article, who’s mocking up images of herself, seems to be preparing a simple copy of an image – in order to test it – that she will later improve to make public. A mock-up is a model of something before it is built. We mocked up a car model with cardboard.
“out of shot” (8)
This is a technical term that is used in movie making to refer to scenes and images that are not in sight because the camera looks elsewhere. “Out of earshot” is an everyday expression that means “too far to hear,” as in I waited until the boss was out of earshot to remind my colleagues that it was her birthday.
“Reality bites” (9)
This expression is used to mean that the truth can be disagreeable and annoying. It usually implies that one thinks everything is going smoothly until the world catches up with you and “bites” you.
This is a very informal word that is quite frequent in British English. It is used in the slot of both the adjective and the adverb in a sentence. It either expresses anger or emphasises what you are saying. It is considered slightly rude and, as such, non-native speakers should be very wary of using it in the right context. This computer is bloody useless. I need an upgrade already! / I’ll do what I bloody well like in my own house.
“tending to” (11)
“To tend to” is to attend by action or care, to deal with the problems or needs of a person or thing. Nurses tend to the injured during a war / Working parents have to tend to their children before they go to work.
If a tree falls in a forest …
… and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This is the original philosophical thought that questions existence and perception and how we get to know reality. This has been altered several times to poke fun at different situations. When it comes to social networks, we’ve found the following as second condition in the proposition: “and no-one is there to tweet about it” and the current one in the article among others. Mostly because, as we all have noticed, life seems to occur in social networks as of late. Or, less poetically, network users will say “Pic, or it did not happen,” a phrase used on networks to counter the innumerable claims (mainly personal bragging) made on such media.
Apparently, as the article hints, everybody seems to be living a cooler life than your own. Their lifestyles are a lot shinier than yours, or, to carry on with the image of nature “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” The origin of this proverb is the image of two neighbouring gardens or green backyards. It describes the sensation that other people’s lives are better than your own or that one would be happier if the circumstances were different, even though this may not always be so. Social media, the article says, makes sure you never forget that the grass is always greener. (The proverb is usually reduced to these five words.) Such is, for instance, the old dilemma between, on the one hand, developing your own online business and becoming self-employed and, on the other, having a stable 8-to-5 job in an office is a decision many find less and less difficult to take. It is inevitable to think that, whichever your current working conditions, the grass is greener on the other side.
So, go now and “don't let the grass grow under your feet” – in other words act now, don't delay action – and find out more about how trees, grass, flowers and elements of nature are used metaphorically in English so as not to MISS OUT on the vast colourful use of the language.