01 Mar. 2021

Fear of Missing Out a.k.a FOMO

FOMO is an old age phenomenon which has gained recent fame and popularity thanks to the glorious world of social media, ergo it is a much more known lingo in our generation. Unfortunately, known doesn’t translate into understood

FOMO can be described as a perception of an imagined reality where an individual constantly feels that they are missing out on something more interesting, more often or even someone more exciting. Today we are all grappling with the “FOMO addiction”. Even when we decide to disconnect, we still are connected or re-connect just to make sure that we are not missing out on something important.

FOMO can be construed in light of the famous thinking error - ‘what if’. What if, this is that party where maximum fun happens, everyone bonds and gets besties, even though I am too tired to get out of the house? What if, my friend does something bad if I don’t respond to her text right away, even though I am having a meal with my family after ages? What if, this turns out to be the most epic solo trip ever, even though I promised my grandparents that I would come spend time with them?

The problem lies here. FOMO comes from what we believe are our worst nightmares!

Therefore, the best solution appears in being fully present and aware of the present moment.

This fear of missing out is pervasive in this generation because we are bombarded with choices. The world was surely simpler when you had to choose between red and yellow. Today you have ten different shades of yellow and twenty different shades of red. Somewhere in between when you decide on lime yellow for your wall, what keeps you widely awake at night is what if, cherry-red had looked better! And then you start the drill all over again, never really feeling content.

FOMO, affects us in more harmful ways than good. The only positive part that I can think of is probably how it motivates us to try novel experiences; however, it shifts the balance to the other side far too quickly.

Several research studies suggest that living in the fear of missing out leads to a higher risk for depression and anxiety. FOMO itself and/or our choices that are often governed by this fear leads to feelings of discontent and deep sadness that renders one unable to fully live in the present moment. FOMO is vastly propagated by social media - constant story updates on Instagram, sharing locations on Facebook so on and so forth. Studies reveal that it leads to low self-esteem and an ever so low sense of self-worth in individuals. In a recent article in Economic times, it was quoted that FOMO leads to extreme dissatisfaction and has a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health – mood swings, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, reduced self-esteem, extreme social anxiety, and increased levels of negativity and depression.

In order to have a more fulfilling and content life instead of spending it on worrying about all the other fun others might be having, here are some ways that can help you to fight off your FOMO-

1. Grass will always be greener on the other side but that’s because you are too busy looking at someone else’s lawn. Do not wear yourself too thin. Stay in the present moment and appreciate the little joys of life with people around you or even in your own company. It will be difficult at first, but once you start practicing it consciously and consistently, it will soon become a habit.

2. Spend your time on social media mindfully. Everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting their own battles. What people portray on social media is more often than not filtered and not the reality of their lives.

3. Acceptance will be hard but it will do you much good. At some point you will have to accept the truth that you can’t do it all. Life is nothing, but a constant trade-off between things. Savouring each moment and creating memories as opposed to living partially in one while thinking about the next thing already or fretting over the things not chosen. The choice is yours.

4. Practice gratitude. At some point we all have to start focusing on what we have instead of what we lack. The sooner we do this, the earlier our lives will turn around, for the good this time.

5. It’s a cliché, but happiness does really lie in journeys and not the destination. So, choose the present moment; cherish the people in your environment, stay with the process and the experience instead of seeking happiness outside of yourself, in the ends

To sum it all up, like everything else FOMO too, when within limits is good - it helps an individual to try out newer experiences which allows them to grow and evolve. However, beyond that point it becomes an obsession - an excess which history tells us that too much of anything is bad. worrying about the future is good, helps one to make goals and work towards them. It becomes a problem when worrying translates into constant rumination. The best way to fight it is by being mindful and aware of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness teaches one appreciation, gratitude and compassion for ourselves, people around us and for the things that we have.