Every year as New Year’s Eve approaches, teenagers find themselves scrambling to make plans to celebrate the night. Questions like “who will be hosting?”, “will I be invited?”, and “will I be allowed out?” fill students’ minds as early as mid-December. In Ridgewood, most kids celebrate the New Year surrounded by their friends while their siblings and parents are out doing the same, so it is not uncommon to feel pressure about where and with whom you will be celebrating. This pressure can be caused by peers, societal expectations, or even by yourself.
Many RHS students have heard of the phenomenon known as FOMO, which means “fear of missing out”. FOMO is often part of the pressure you place on yourself when deciding which party you will be attending or if you will be attending a party at all. Some families may want to ring in the New Year together, restricting their children from going out on New Years Eve, and some kids prefer to celebrate in the comfort of their own home. Junior Terrence Chun states, “even if I was allowed out I would feel a sense of guilt when I am with my friends knowing I am missing out on New Years with my family which only occurs once a year”.
Social media platforms have intensified FOMO by allowing kids to look at group pictures on Instagram, Snapchat stories, and using the Snap-map to see where the party is being held and who is there. In previous years, students may have only heard about a party they weren’t invited to during the following days at school. Now, everyone knows about the party while it’s going on, which changes FOMO from a “fear of missing out” to what is interpreted most of the time as a conscious exclusion.
This pressure and FOMO consumes high school students, often making them go out even if they didn’t want to or wishing they were out when they can’t be. New Year’s Eve should be about celebrating and reflecting on the past year while looking forward to the new experiences that lie ahead. Sophomore Victoria Lyakerman fully embraces this mindset, stating that she feels no pressure to go out on New Years Eve and looks forward to “celebrating a good year with my friends and starting out the New Year with the people I love”. As a result of the immediacy of social media, kids now receive live updates of parties they weren’t invited to, which is unhealthy and influences real-life friendships as well as online.
Some students may not feel the pressure themselves, but recognize the many influences that could lead to other students feeling anxious about the expectations of the night. Sophomore Sofia Lee stated simply that “no one wants to spend New Years Eve alone”, and understandably so. Between the social media posts of everyone having fun with their friends, or even the Times Square celebration in New York City, it appears that everyone is having the time of their lives with friends. Fear of being the “only one” not doing so can be paralyzing, as it is in many aspects of life.
In reality, you are never the only one. In RHS alone, many people ring in the New Year in ways other than the stereotypical party or large celebration. But knowing other kids aren’t at a party either doesn’t make anyone feel better in the moment. There has always been a fear of missing out on New Year’s Eve because of the expectations surrounding it. However, social media has heightened FOMO and worsened the feeling of seeing everyone else out with friends while you’re on your couch. There is no doubt that New Year’s Eve can be a reason for both anticipation and anxiety.
Caroline Loscalzo and Meadow Paliotta
news editor, staff writer
Graphic: Erin Kim