With the exploding popularity of social networking sites and mobile instant updates, a new twist on an old type of anxiety is creeping its way into our culture. Its name is FoMO – or fear of missing out.
You may not have realized that FoMO was actually a syndrome. Until just recently, this phrase was missing entirely from our vocabulary. The official Oxford Dictionary definition states that FoMO is “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
Remember back to grade school when someone you really wanted to be friends with would not give you the time of day and, to make matters worse, would purposefully shun you (like not inviting you to their party)? Such actions made you acutely aware that the world is not fair and that you were being left out of fun and exciting events, specifically as a slight against you. We all have these moments from our childhood when we started to realize that society has a hierarchy and structure of power built into it.
Becoming an adult does not necessarily mean an end to the silly social games of grade school. The games can continue and the stakes are raised. Now the focus is on keeping up with the Joneses and efforts are made to chase the fleeting “perfect adult life” (think upwardly mobile career, partner you are madly in love with, new car, large savings account, etc.). When you are not able to attain this perfect life or keep up with the Joneses, you can experience sadness and anxiety, which develops into a fear of missing out.
Technology Can Be Your Enemy
Before the push towards mobile technology, many were able to cope more easily with the harsh reality of their lack of the “perfect adult life” and would only encounter reminders periodically that might cause feelings of inadequacy or anxiety.
Now things have changed…
With constant updates coming at you through mobile devices like phones and tablets, reminders of what you feel is lacking in your life flash before you frequently as other people share their lives on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Scrolling through news feeds and social media accounts can make you feel that you are leading an unfulfilled and inferior life and cause you to worry that somehow you are missing out on the best of what life has to offer.
FoMO Can Be Overcome
If you feel that the fear of missing out is creeping into your thinking, try using some of these tips:
- Understand That You Are Seeing Only A Small Portion Of Reality – Your friends and associates are rarely posting any of the bad or boring events in their lives. Keep in mind that no one lives a charmed life and that we all have our battles to fight. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but that is rarely the case.
- Be Grateful For What You Have In Life – It is important to focus on the good things in your life. Set aside some time to acknowledge the things in your life that you are thankful for. Maintaining an attitude of appreciation will help you look at your world differently.
- Be Happy For Other People – When you see updates from your friends or family with happy news, be happy for them. Your feelings of goodwill will overshadow any negativity and you will find that you have a more positive outlook on life.
- Don’t Miss Out, Move Out – You do not have to stay complacent should you not have the means to attain your goals. For instance, if you really want to travel but do not have the funds to realize that dream, try seeking an alternative. Instead of jumping on a plane to Rome, sign up for an Italian cooking class. There are many things you can do to start working towards your dreams, even if you are not quite able to fulfill them yet.
Resolve in this year to forget FoMO, especially when using social media sites or attending happy events in your friend’s lives. Focus on what you are doing to attain your own dreams and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Be fulfilled with the present moment. You will find that you will be much happier and less anxious about life.