The Deuce. La Macc. The frat quad. All are synonymous with drinking, wild parties and general discomfort. So why do people suffer through the sweat dripping down their backs, the lack of space to move and the overwhelming amount of alcohol spilled down their shirts? After wracking my brain trying to find out why, the only answer I could think of was FOMO.
The fear of missing out, aka FOMO, is growing increasingly prevalent among college students, namely due to social pressure that comes from friends and social media. Some first-years specifically may feel more severe FOMO than their upperclassmen peers.
"FOMO is a self-implemented thing," Weinberg first-year Emma Wool said. "Other people don’t really care if I go out, but I feel like I need to in order to gain that social status."
While some claim this feeling is more of a high school phenomenon, it still seems to be a driving force in the pressure new college students feel to fit in.
Wool went on, saying “There’s a lot of options for going out, so it’s not super exclusive. It’s less ‘I didn’t go to this specific party,’ it’s more ‘Oh, I didn’t go out last night.’” Seeing what other people got up to through social media, she says, adds to insecurities.
And she’s not the only one. As Wool spoke surrounded by a few of her friends in the comfort of a dorm room, the whole room nodded in agreement. While peers don’t necessarily directly pressure each other to go out, the indirect pressure from social media through features such as the countless stories on Snapchat, and even the ability to track someone’s location through Snapmap (watching the Bobb-McCulloch residents move as a group around the frat quad brings on the strongest FOMO like nothing else) perpetuate the idea that if you are not going out, you are missing out on what could have been the best night of your life.
McCormick first-year Ashley Xu also attested to the impact social media has had on her college experience.
“Social media has a huge effect on a lot of people," Xu said. "Especially because it only shows the highlights of people’s lives and not what it’s really like.”
Most avid social media users know this, so why do we all fall into the trap?
Let’s admit it. We all know that the frat party basement is stuffy and suspiciously smells of where hope comes to die. There’s no room to dance, but the Snapchat story still shows drunk girls belting to Kanye, having the time of their lives (yes, this was my story last night)! While this is of course part of the experience, the true discomforts of going out are hidden from the Snap story and the themed costume-clad posts from Bobb on Instagram.
Other students say they don’t feel as much pressure to party.
“In high school, I didn’t party at all, so it’s definitely been a culture shock," Medill first-year Mackenzie Matheson said. “I feel like there’s always an option to stay home and no one will judge me for it,"
However, she then paused and said that wasn't always true.
“The first couple times during Wildcat Welcome, when I first met my friends, I was worried that if I stayed home they wouldn’t invite me out the next time so I would go out even if I wasn’t super keen on doing it," she said.
Clearly Northwestern isn’t lacking options to go out on weekend nights to enjoyable events such as dance or music performances. Just remember that whenever you’re feeling FOMO, you’re not alone. To my fellow first-years: we’ll find our places and your at Northwestern, but not necessarily at The Deuce, La Macc or a frat party.
Thumbnail credit: PlusLexia.com on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.