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Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

The emotion of “fear of missing out” (FOMO) arises from the perception that others are missing out on significant possibilities or are leading better, more fulfilling lives.


Dr. Dan Herman first coined the popularly used term FOMO in 1996. The idea of missing out on all the fun has existed for centuries but its prevalence has increased only recently with the advent of social media. According to the data, it is most common among millennials.


Social media allows for comparison of everyones’ lives. It is through this comparison that FOMO frequently causes discomfort, discontentment, melancholy, and stress.


How do I know if I have FOMO?

If you notice that you’re constantly checking social media to see what others are up to and feel negative about it, you’re likely experiencing FOMO. Feeling mentally exhausted after scrolling through social media as well as trying to be available at all social gatherings, finding yourself overscheduling, or feeling sad and finding it difficult to concentrate on other things, are a few other signs.


How does FOMO affect you?

Constantly checking one’s phone while being out in a social setting, posting everything on social media, and becoming anxious at the notion of being without one’s phone are just a few of the obvious effects of FOMO. While these results might not seem particularly negative, FOMO can also encourage unhealthy habits such as texting while driving or doing other important things, which can hinder your life and routine, respectively.


The impact of FOMO on mental health is very high. It can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia, and fear and cause you to be in a constant state of worry and hustle. When someone has FOMO, they could also find themselves continuously worrying about what other people are up to, which makes them miss out on their own lives.


When a person becomes preoccupied with other people and their lives, they lose their sense of identity and cannot interact with the outside world as genuine people.


FOMO is an emotion that is fueled by thoughts; it is not a mental health problem. Fear is produced by thoughts, which can lead to other related concerns. The clinical community has been researching whether it can be a sign of something more serious.


How to tackle FOMO?

Understanding FOMO and its origins are the first step in tackling it and improving quality of life. Once FOMO is identified, steps can be made to eliminate it from the person’s life. Most recommendations for people trying to deal with FOMO include taking time off from social media and focusing more on the present, as well as the people and environment around them. The amygdala’s perception of dangers is removed when one is more present, which also reduces stress and terror.


Other ways include shifting attention from what is lacking in life to what is already there. This can even be considered a form of gratitude. Instead of publishing everything on social media, keeping a notebook of enjoyable recollections and events may serve as a better alternative. The diary moves the emphasis from public validation to private adoration of what makes life wonderful. Or, one can even have a personal account only for themselves.


Keeping a thankfulness notebook can also aid in shifting attention to life’s positive aspects. Due to the fact that it compels the understanding that life is already full of wonderful things, it will also be harder to feel inadequate and dissatisfied. A digital detox where you take a break from all forms of social media can also keep your thinking caps at peace.


How does FOMO translate into behavior?

FOMO causes people to spend a lot of time on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, in an effort to lessen their chances of missing out and the distress that comes with it. Social media makes it easier to compare yourself to others. This comparison in turn causes us to be aloof, and slip into episodes of sadness and worry.

People’s “in real life” experiences can be altered by FOMO. Since there is always something new to ensure they are not missing out on, it may make them less likely to repeat an activity, at least temporarily. Even while one is having fun, FOMO might strike, making one’s assessment of the present situation worse.


Who is most likely to be affected?

Teenagers and young adults are more likely to experience FOMO. Younger people are significantly more at risk because of their increased online activity and greater need for acceptance and belonging.


That being said, youth aren’t the only ones who might suffer from FOMO. Since social media is frequently linked to FOMO, people who use it frequently are more likely to experience it than people who don’t use it much.


Because we’re viewing the highlights of other people’s lives on social media, it’s possible we can feel FOMO. People who put a lot of effort into their social connections are probably more lured to social media and more likely to experience FOMO. People who struggle with social anxiety are also at high risk. They are more prone to avoid social interactions and rely more heavily on social media for connection and to lessen feelings of loneliness.


Experiencing FOMO can have a negative impact on our lives. The key is to strike the right balance by being able to reap the benefits without letting it get the better of you. There is a whole life beyond social media that we all are blissfully unaware of. Social media is never an apt indicator of someone’s life and what actually goes on. Being aware of your own needs and what makes you feel a sense of connect and belonging can go a long way in keeping the FOMO at bay.

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