FOMO – the fear of missing out – is defined on Wikipedia as a “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent. It perpetuates the fear that we have made the wrong decision on how to spend our time, as you can imagine how things could be different”.
Although I do believe that FOMO is a concept that has always existed, I think that it has become much more apparent due to our over-abundance of technology and social media.
Naturally if you miss out on something that you didn’t want to miss out on, you are going to suffer from some social angst to some degree. However, this social angst can be deeply exaggerated when scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram news feed.
According to the Huffington Post, recent studies show that FOMO is often linked to feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction, and that those who use social media suffer from higher levels of these feelings.
I had a serious case of extreme FOMO over the weekend. I happened to be sick, so I made the decision to skip out on a party Friday night. However, I almost went out, regardless of how worn down and ill I felt. The whole night I refused to open the snap chats I was receiving because I knew they would make my already-extreme-FOMO much worse. I also tried my best to resist from texting my friends asking for updates, and scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feed. It was a serious, anxiety-provoking struggle.
And that is when it hit me: I need to get the f*ck over FOMO.
I think that the only way for me to get over it is to explain to myself, right here, right now, why it is so irrational.
1. It’s impossible to not miss out on something
I usually make a solid effort to go to every single event I am invited to, even if I don’t want to. If I see that my friends are attending, I immediately count myself in. But to be totally honest, half the events I end up going to are not worth it in the end. It is impossible to be included in absolutely everything, so why am I wasting my time trying to do so? I need to accept that things happen every day, without me, and that is okay.
2. It is completely and totally irrational
It causes you to believe that if you decide to stay in one night, you’ll miss out on something awesome. Which got me thinking.. When was the last time I went out and experienced something “awesome”? I’m not saying that I don’t have fun when I go out, because I do.. I’m just saying that I rarely experience anything novel or hugely spectacular on a night out. So why do I fear that the one night I decide to stay in will be the night that I miss out on something awesome and out of the ordinary?
3. Social media can be an inaccurate representation of life
Social media is very good at presenting an endless montage of the highs of peoples everyday lives. Instagram, for example, basically presents an adobe photo-shopped version of people’s lives. We “crop out” that day we spent crying over a breakup, or the day we spent eating our feelings in comfort food. Instead, we post these beautiful, filtered images that show the most positive, happiest aspects of our lives. Just because someone posts a beautiful photo, it doesn’t mean they are living this happy, perfect life. Don’t get sucked into that lie.
4. Focus on the present moment
What is the point in wasting time worrying about what everyone else is doing and how much more fun they are having. Instead, we should be focusing on whatever it is we are currently doing. Whether that’s watching a show, reading a book, or having a nice, long bath. Be mindful – a state of open, active, intentional attention to the present. Too often we spend our lives waiting for the weekend, summer, holidays, etc. Too often we spend too much time stuck in the past. Pay attention to the present moment.
Let’s all get the f*ck over FOMO.