The fear of missing out
Do you always say yes to invitations, have three kinds of social media running at once on your laptop and generally find yourself always logged on? You could be suffering from FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) syndrome.
I have to admit it. Sometimes I stay with my friends longer than I really want to, simply because I don’t want something exciting to happen when I’m not there. I watch movies I don’t want to see, just so I don’t miss out on the conversations happening in between. And if I’m at home, I spend hours checking social media feeds to see if I’m not missing out on a spur of the moment social gathering.
You could say that I’m suffering from FoMO. Psychologists describe FoMO as a type of anxiety, a sort of anticipatory regret. It’s brought on by being aware of so many alternatives; by seeing the other things you could be doing, having, or being.
Offline vs. Online
FoMO is not a new phenomenon, it has been around since the good old times. It has a resemblance to the saying «the grass is always greener on the other side». However, experts say that the syndrome has been aggravated by the internet. Being connected is no longer restricted to being at home, it’s something we are able to do 24/7. Platforms for social comparisons – such as Facebook or Twitter – make it easy for people to see what they aren’t achieving, doing or having. This has significant, negative effects because an awareness of the alternatives can cause dissatisfaction towards their own current situation. People are starting to compare their own life to the life that someone else portrays on social media, which isn’t a good representation of who they really are or what they really do.
Let’s be honest, we all portray ourselves to have better lives on social media than we really do. It’s normal. But the moment people start comparing offline lives to online ones is when the FoMO starts to take over. It can quickly begin to affect every area of your life; from ordering a dish at a restaurant and regretting your order to seeing pictures of someone’s newborn and thinking –I wish I was having a baby.
It’s Not All Bad
Although the term ‘syndrome’ has an unpleasant connotation, FoMO can actually be a good thing. It drives us to lead richer lives filled with interest, excitement and pleasure. It motivates us to develop ourselves to the fullest and to reach goals that lead to a feeling of satisfaction and strength. I can certainly vouch for that. There have been many occasions where I’ve grudgingly gone to social events because I didn’t want to be the only one who hadn’t, only to find I had a wonderful time. You can either use FoMO to overwhelm you with anxiety and tension, or you can let it motivate you to be stronger, faster, better.
If you are plagued by the fear of missing out, here is my advice. Try to live in the moment, enjoy what you’re doing right now rather than looking at someone else’s life and wishing you were them. Stop making social comparisons, nobody has a perfect life. Look at the positives in life, stop to think about what you’ve achieved and you might just realize that the grass was greener on your side all along