Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out

Imagine it is December 31st. Everyone is excited and happy for the New Year’s Party. Your colleagues are discussing their exciting plans; your best friend texts you to ask if you are ready for the party at the most happening pub in the city. But you can’t go because your mother is ill and needs you. The entire night you wonder about where your friends are and what they are up to. You feel sad, a little anxious and wished you could join them. The next morning, you see new status updates, posts and pictures on your social media feed. All your friends and colleagues were partying till four in the morning. You feel extremely sad and jealous. You feel dejected because you missed out on so much fun. In fact, you regret your decision of not going.
This exactly what “Fear Of Missing Out” or FOMO is.
It is the fear or anxiety of missing out on an exciting social event, especially when you are unable to attend it. And FOMO is a direct cause of social media. When we see people posting beautiful pictures of them having a good time, lots of fun, good food and dancing, it immediately makes us feel left out. Franchina et al (2018) defined FOMO as:
“an intra-personal trait that drives people to stay up to date of what other people are doing, among others on social media platforms.”

Their study attempted to probe the relationships between FOMO, social media use, problematic social media use (PSMU) and phubbing behavior among Flemish teenagers. Results supported the notion that FOMO as a factor had impact on teenagers’ social media use.
FOMO being a by-product of social media has certain distinct symptoms. One needs to be aware and introspect in order to help themselves and those around them. Here are some common symptoms of FOMO.

  1. Pervasive anxiety
  2. Increased social media use
  3. Personal dissatisfaction
  4. Wanting to do everything and be everywhere
  5. Experiencing excessive negative emotions

FOMO is an epidemic today. What is so perilous about it is that it causes a tremendous amount of stress for minuscule things such as missing a friend’s birthday party and in certain cases, it could lead to depression. It hampers the general mental health of a person, makes the person more self-critical and as a result the person experiences more of negative emotions. FOMO acts as a roadblock to our emotional well-being.
Dogan (2019) conducted two studies to understand the link between self-concept and FOMO through Self-Construal. It was found out that individuals with interdependent self-construal are more disposed to go through FOMO in comparison to individuals with independent self-construal. This is because independent self-construal signifies independent and self-reliant concept of self. Whereas, interdependent self-construal requires validation from those around.
Numerous other studies suggest that FOMO is not only detrimental to people’s emotional state but experiencing FOMO can also lead to higher alcohol consumption. The good news is that FOMO is absolutely treatable with just a few lifestyle tweaks!

Here are some common ways to deal with FOMO:

  1. Prioritize
    Prioritizing tasks in most important to least important gives a certain sense of clarity. Knowing what is the most important and checking it off the list also feels empowering. 

  2. Slow Down
    One needs to understand that it is okay to not “do everything and be everywhere”. It is not humanely possible. Invest your time in what is best for you.

  3. Avoid Social Media
    Social Media is addicting and constantly bombards with unwanted information. Using it mindfully and sparingly is the key.

  4. Turn The Noise Down
    It is a good idea to every now and then get away from all the hustle-bustle and just relax.

  5. Be Present In the Moment
    Going about the day mindlessly is something we often do. But being in the moment and cherishing very second of it is something we ought to incorporate in our life.

  6. Visit A Therapist
    Visiting a therapist can be extremely helpful because insights and experience offered by a trained professional is always valuable.

So, the next time your friend asks you “Hey, do you watch Game Of Thrones?”, just know it’s okay if you don’t watch it. Anyway, why experience FOMO, when we can experience JOMO!!! Oh, the Joy Of Missing Out! Let’s reconnect with ourselves and what truly makes us happy. Hop off the bandwagon and do something that gives You joy. Let’s not waste our lives with the burden of social obligations and trying to fit in.

About the Author

Rohini Kottu
Psychology Student.

Rohini Kottu lives in Mumbai, India. She is currently pursuing Masters in Clinical Psychology and hopes to become a psychologist and a poet too som

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