In this week’s blog I’ll be exploring the concept of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
What is FOMO?
FOMO is anxiety that occurs when an exciting or interesting event is happening somewhere else and is often aroused by posts seen on social media.
What Are Some Examples of FOMO?
FOMO has always been around. Remember the old idea of “Keeping up with the Jones”?! The idea that stems from person A being jealous and envious of person B’s new car or new house so Person A starts experiencing feelings of inadequacy and anxiety associated with the Fear of Missing Out except it’s with materialistic possessions.
The FOMO I’m referring to is social media driven and more extreme than Keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the fear of missing out on social interactions, novel experiences or other potentially satisfying events.
Who is Affected by FOMO?
Between 75 to 80 percent of Americans have some kind of social media account. However, more than 50 percent of social media users experience FOMO and it’s the most common among the 18 to 33 year old age bracket.
What Problems Are Caused by FOMO and How Do You Overcome Them?
FOMO affects us in numerous ways including:
Extreme Social Anxiety: Social anxiety occurs when everyday interactions cause significant worry and self-consciousness about how others perceive you. In a way FOMO is a more extreme form of social anxiety that causes someone to feel anxious that they’re missing out on bonding time with other people.
How To Overcome Social Anxiety:
- Reducing Social Media Usage: This may not seem like much, but it’s a start.
- Self-Help Manuals: Self-help manuals are intended to supplement therapy and are great tools for working on yourself.
- Therapy: It helps to find a therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders and they can work with you to develop coping skills and also get to the cause of your social anxiety.
- Meditation: When you’re compulsively chasing after experiences due to FOMO it can make happiness an illusion. By practicing mindfulness you can become happier by focusing on the present moment and feeling a deeper sense of meaning from it.
- Journaling: Evokes mindfulness and helps someone remain present while keeping perspective.
- Learn How To Keep Negative Thinking Under Control: I mentioned in my post, “How to Turn Anxiety Into A Superpower”? that anxiety is characterized by a tendency toward negative thinking due to over generalization. This way of thinking is transformed with reframing, which is a process where negative and unhelpful thoughts are identified and replaced with positive and empowering ones.
Depression: Overuse of social media caused by FOMO can cause depression. Also, depression is an indication of an underlying source of stress caused by spreading ourselves too thin when we do too many things.
The opposite of FOMO is JOMO. JOMO (Joy of missing out) describes the joy people experience when they take a break from social activity. We tend to overload our lives with social obligations than necessary and we lose sight of how to enjoy the present moment.
Perceived Low Status: People have always been concerned about their social standing, however social media induced FOMO has resulted in a bigger obsession with social standing resulting in more anxiety and feelings of inferiority.
Feelings of perceived lower status caused by FOMO may be part of a much larger problem. The negative feelings of having a perceived lower status can be triggered by FOMO; have you ever started questioning about whether you’re happy with your job or happy with your current friends?! Do you feel like your social standing is feeling affected by these things? The feelings of unhappiness or insecurities dredged up by FOMO may be an opportunity to take a break from social media and think about how you can become happier and more fulfilled in your life.
Loneliness: Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch with friends they meet offline. However, there are many people that use social media as a substitute for real connection and they develop feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. These feelings are enhanced if you are dealing with FOMO.
When you’re feeling lonely it helps to reemphasize relationships. I’m not talking about online dating which is the biggest source of FOMO. Instead spend more time with your family and friends offline doing group activities and can increase the quality of our relationships.
Reduced Self-Esteem: FOMO can lead to reduced self-esteem; this can go hand-in-hand with the depression and loneliness brought on by social anxiety.
How to boost self-esteem:
- Be Kind To Yourself
- Learn How To Say “No”
- Accept that Nobody’s Perfect
- Accept that We All Make Mistakes
- Focus on What You Can Change
- Do What Makes You Happy
- Show Gratitude for the Small Things
Mood Swings: Mood swings are a normal occurrence, but they can also be an indicator of an underlying problem such as FOMO.
Mood swings can be caused by many social media induced issues including stress and anxiety, getting off schedule and disrupted sleep. It’s important to talk to a professional about this, because mood swings can be a sign of a much bigger problem than FOMO.
Social Media Addiction: FOMO can lead to a compulsive desire to stay connected with other people’s lives online.
The general over-use of social media may be the root of the problem. It helps to take a break from using social media. Instead of compulsively checking Facebook and/or Instagram several times a day focus on other ways to keep your mind occupied including hobbies, exercising and socializing with people offline.
Having a Hard Time Committing in Case Something Else Comes Up: This happens a lot not just on Facebook, but also on online dating platforms. The paradox of choice involved with the fear of buyer’s remorse when we go car shopping is similar to FOMO when there are too many choices. Feelings of fear, guilt and anxiety can creep in if you miss out on something due to FOMO.
Due to the paradox of choice it can create problems with committing to anything. It’s important to evaluate these choices and prioritize which ones you choose based on what you truly value.
Feeling That You’ll Never Catch Up to Everyone Else: FOMO makes people perceive that they’re falling behind in life when they compare their accomplishments with someone else’s on social media and also seeing how much better their lives are compared to yours. The sense of urgency it creates results in increased anxiety and fear.
Most people use social media to exaggerate in order to make their lives seem a lot better and more fun than they actually are. It helps to take a step back and realize that these exaggerated lives don’t exist. Also, realize that these people have problems in their lives too but won’t post it on social media.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is anxiety that occurs when we get mentally aroused by social media posts of events or experiences happening somewhere else.
Problems that can occur with FOMO include social anxiety, depression, loneliness and reduced self-esteem that result from social media addiction. However, being aware that these problems are happening are the first step toward overcoming FOMO.
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Have You Ever Experienced FOMO?
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