FOMO, which is also known as the “fear of missing out,” can be all too real among my millennial brethren, especially if you work remotely.
Sure, most of us who work from home identify as introverts, and as such, we enjoy long stretches of time away from people to do our thing. On the other hand, toiling away at your desk in your day-old pajamas can also feel isolating when you’ve been at it for too long. It feels even worse when you open up your Facebook and/or Instagram and see your friends tearing it up on the beach or at the hottest nightclub.
All those #YOLO posts can just make you go, “Are these people living a much better life than I am?” Freaking depressing, right?
Not once you get past all the smoke and mirrors, or Insta-filters, it turns out.
Lissette Calveiro is your average 26 year-old trying to present the best version of her life on Instagram, just like many other millennials today who grew up in the Kardashian era….except that she ended up accruing USD13,000 (about PHP675,000) in debt along the way.
It all started innocently enough. After moving to New York back in 2013 to work as an intern, Calveiro got hooked on making it seem like she was living the dream. To try and impress her 12,000+ followers on Instagram, she went on USD200 (about PHP10,379) monthly shopping sprees so she’d never be photographed in the same outfit, blew USD1,000 (about PHP51,895) on a designer item like a Louis Vuitton purse or Kate Spade handbag every month, and splurged on expensive brunches at the hippest eateries in the Big Apple.
Then, there was the traveling. In order to appear like a carefree jetsetter, she would fly to destinations like Las Vegas, the Bahamas, and Los Angeles quite frequently. “Snapchat had these [geo-] filters [like digital passport stamps] and I wanted to collect at least 12,” she said. At one point, she even spent USD700 on a round-trip ticket to Austin, Texas just to attend a Sia concert back in November 2016.
Because her internship only provided a travel stipend and with the earnings from her part-time job merely supplementing her monthly expenses, it didn’t take long for her credit card debt to balloon at an alarming rate. By the time she was offered a full-time job in public relations, she owed a total of USD13,000 in her quest to be Insta-famous.
Thus, the aspiring influencer got her wake-up call. “I was living a lie,” Calveiro said, “Debt was looming over my head…. I knew that moving to New York, I had to get my act together or I wasn’t going to survive.” It would take 14 months of cutting down on spending and employing hacks like moving in with roommates to split the rent, borrowing rather than buying clothes, and cooking her own meals before she managed to free herself from crippling debt.
No one really talks about the state of their finances on social media. In most cases, the reality would just shatter the rosy-hued illusion of “living the high life” that most Instagrammers have painstakingly built.
For starters, it’s been estimated that you would need to spend about USD31,400 (about PHP1,628,890) every year “to maintain the standards of physical beauty represented daily in our Instagram feeds.”
Now, there aren’t a lot of remote working gigs that can give you that sort of paycheck, but even if you’re involved in one (or several), why would you blow through that trying to impress a bunch of strangers?
Furthermore, obsessing over the contents of your feed can make you lose focus on what is truly important, such as cultivating your skills to build a genuine career (because being an “influencer” doesn’t count unless you’re a Kardashian) and saving up so you can invest in a financially secure future for yourself and your family.
One of the most challenging things that most newbie telecommuters often have to contend with is the occasional feeling of isolation. Sometimes, it can be quite tempting to blow a good chunk of your paycheck on a new gadget or a weekend at an expensive beach resort, simply because those make for posts that garner surefire likes and comments, things that, while fleeting, can make you feel a little less lonely.
And while there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, Calviero’s story proves that it’s all too easy for things to snowball into one big financial mess, especially if your primary goal is to impress your social media friends.
So, rather than seeking connections through your Facebook or Instagram feed, why not contact an old friend or family member and arrange to meet up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? The beauty of remote work, after all, is that you get a more flexible schedule, and if you can take advantage of that to spend more time with those you love, you may just find yourself far too content to even consider checking who’s been shadowing your feed recently.