Overcoming FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, relates to being overwhelmed by options and not being able to anticipate what you will miss and what you will regret.

FOMO: Meaning and Definition

Technology impacts the way we think about, understand and interact with the world. Undoubtedly there are some implications for how this impacts our psychological well-being.

There are a number of ways in which technology enhances our lives: access to information, forging and maintaining relationships, making learning and teaching become more accessible, providing a breeding ground for creativity and innovation for everything from entertainment and the arts to media coverage to improvements in research, science, and medicine.

But there are also “side effects,” or at least potentially less healthful ways in which some technological advances have already greatly impacted society at large, and mental health in particular.  

When used responsibly and in moderation, social media is an awesome resource that will inevitably continue to shape not only our interpersonal relationships but how we communicate with the world and shape our identities. 

However, there are some undeniable repercussions and here are my top five things to consider regarding this modern “Wild West” and how it may be contributing to some feelings of less-than-awesomeness about oneself.

Some of them are more ‘sneaky’ than others. Read on to see how to monitor and keep yourself from OD-ing on the World Wide Web.

FOMO: Meaning and Definition

FOMO… When you wake up in the morning / have a break in your day do you first check all your social media feeds to see if you missed something?

Do you feel anxious or stressed while perusing status updates and photos of people you know, or, don’t even know but are tangentially connected to via social media? 

These social comparisons forced by social media’s ever-present, ever-updated newsfeed puts our lives in stark contrast with the highlights and selected portions of the ‘lives’ of others.

Now, there’s an acronym for the “condition” of a new rendition of social anxiety and a need to keep up with the Joneses... FOMO! And it is for realsies afflicting many tweens, teens, and young to non-young adults.

“FOMO = Fear of Missing Out.”

Who posts pictures or status updates of (non-ironic) boredom and apathy?

FOMO is reflective of a superficial enjoyment of life, where one is not present or in the moment; instead anticipating how they can formulate a clever hashtag or anecdote that others will find humorous, exciting, or titillating at a later point in time.

Social comparisons have never been more biased, formulated, and distilled. One potentially has his or her social calendar mapped out based on the sheer number of “friends” (isn’t it telling that the term is now frequently put in quotes in the context of social media). 

FOMO relates to being overwhelmed by options and not being able to anticipate what you will miss and what you will regret.

However, research suggests that those who lack a sense of autonomy, connectedness/relatedness, and competence are much more likely to experience FOMO. 

Overcoming FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

To avoid the rabbit hole of FOMO ask yourself if you are really missing out?

Be honest with yourself, are these people who you really feel connected and related to? 

Be engaged and present with the world around you, in real time. Appreciation of life requires the ability to self-regulate, to feel at peace when alone, and the ability to focus on the moment.

Be a rare commodity, be an individual, know thy self! You should feel secure in your relationships with others but not always have to be connected. Create your own possibilities. 

Be tenacious. You create the life you live. Foster acquaintances in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Lastly, be willing to give yourself a reality check.  A lot of what people post is a projection and edited version of who they want you to think they are. Connect in real time, enjoy the experience, and don’t put it on social media. It may feel more real and enjoyable that way.

If you’d like to take a FOMO quiz, click here! And remember, YOLO, so why spend it with FOMO?

Click here to read more articles by Rachel Kitson, Ph.D.!


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