By Emma Teitel, National Columnist, April 28, 2020
It’s hard to believe that anybody is currently overcome with FOMO — “Fear of Missing Out” — because there’s nothing in the world to miss out on.
There are still many things to fear (I don’t need to write you a list) but missing out on that big weekend event isn’t one of them, when a) you don’t even know what day it is and b) that event is cancelled.
Even when it comes to the few events that aren’t cancelled — for example protests that defy physical distancing laws — you probably don’t want to be there anyway, if you value your life. Where you do want to be (or where you already are if you’re lucky) is at home. In other words, FOMO is dead.
But what happens when your career is FOMO-dependent — if prior to the pandemic you weren’t overcome with Fear of Missing Out on a Friday night: you were, rather, the source of it.
COVID-19 has turned a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses upside down, but it’s upending virtual occupations, too. Suddenly social media influencers — i.e. professional jet-setters who, pre-COVID, chronicled their lives from tropical beaches and elite parties — have nothing to do but sit around at home and wait out the plague like the rest of us.
According to a Business Insider Intelligence report from last year, “brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.” Something tells me their plans have changed.
It’s unlikely, for example, that a luxury hotel owner is about to put up a 26-year-old Instagrammer in his honeymoon suite in the middle of a pandemic to advertise non-essential travel that is illegal. Nor are event promoters jumping to offer Instagram models VIP tickets to concerts that are cancelled indefinitely.
If you’re a social media professional in the world of bread baking, this is your time to shine. But if lifestyle travel is your claim to online fame you might want to seek out a new one.
Or you can try to make do at home. According to York University digital marketing instructor Mangala Rao-D’Sa, “influencers have now pivoted to more of a community focus and they’re sharing how they are leading their best COVID-19 life indoors — doing workout videos, cooking meals at home and giving back to their communities.”
It’s true. Browse the pages of some of the world’s most popular travel and lifestyle accounts and it’s clear that influencers are trying to produce fresh content from their homes. The result is that much of their social media posts — previously escapist and jealousy-provoking — look a lot like our own: boring.
For example, here’s a recent caption from the popular Instagram account “Bucket List Journey,” chronicling the travels and (now) jigsaw puzzling adventures of influencer Annette White: “What I [love] about my current situation is being able to have the time to concentrate on all the items on my bucket list that aren’t related to travel, like watching all the Oscar winning best movies, making jam and learning espanol.”
Other travel influencers have begun posting photos from previous trips. “Apparently the lockdown is getting to me,” Eric Stoen wrote recently on his “family travel” page Travel Babbo, “because I’m going to post some of our favorite bathrooms from around the world over the next week.” (The caption is accompanied by a photo of a hotel bathroom in The Seychelles).
Another recent caption, posted alongside an old video of travel blogger Janni Olsson Deler, twirling on a city street, reads: “Cleaning out my phone (haha, perfect activity during isolation!) and found this old clip of me happy and dancing around in Monaco during spring. Spring is here but we don’t really enjoy it since we mostly hang out at home, but soon … Life will be normal again and then we will all dance in the streets together!”
This girl, on the other hand, dreams of a future in which “aspirational” content is a thing of the past. Maybe, having experienced life without the usual fare of lifestyle travel bloggers, some of us will emerge from quarantine a little more content with ourselves.
Isolation is generally bad for mental health, but one of the small reliefs it offers is a reprieve from lavish adventure content that makes you feel like your life is a bust. For now, everybody’s life is a bust — and no filter in the world can hide the fact.