F.O.M.O, used by Gen Z’s, the slang means Fear of Missing out or in layman’s terms fear of not being included in something that others are experiencing. Let’s say all your friends are out, but you're stuck at home and you're 100% sure they're going to see a double rainbow without you. It feels like they are going to have the time of their lives, without you! Or at least that’s what your brain is convincing you will happen. Do you hear that? It’s FOMO knocking on your door.
We all go through it; it happens to the best of us. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time, I was tempted to hang out with my friends instead of doing work, I would probably have a castle of my own by now.
Also read: Social Media- an illusion
Because of this FOMO, even after being aware of your priorities, you may decide otherwise. It works as an obstacle in leading a disciplined and successful life. Because now you are doing what you think you should be doing instead of what you should really be doing, you see there’s always a difference between what you want should be done and what needs to be done. And then after all the debate in your head, you find yourself convincing your mind by saying “rules are meant to be broken”, “a little fun hurts nobody” and “We have got only one life after all” or as we call it YOLO (‘you only live once’ yeah, we do so why not make the most of it?), etc.
Most of us, are unable to deal with this and we find ourselves giving in to the urge. It’s not surprising that the source of all this FOMO we experience today is social media. Everyone, there is having the most amazing time, they don’t have problems, they are extremely happy, their friends never cancel any plans, their skin glows like how! Or at least that is what everyone out there pretends and we interpret. But, do you ever think what part of this interpretation of yours is true? Let me tell you, their parents are as strict as yours, their friends also cancel plans, the trip they recently went to, it took them years to convince their parents and choose a date where everyone can join, but you won’t know that because they won’t put it out. It doesn’t mean your life sucks or theirs is better. It in fact means nothing.
In fact, FOMO leads people to check social media right after they wake up before they go to bed, and during meals. Sounds uncomfortably like addiction to me.
Don’t you see those advertisements screaming “Only 2 pieces left, get it soon!” well, who knows what’s true, but those people are well aware that once you see that image, you will order the shoes right away. Do you know why? Not because you like them so much, but because you don’t want to miss out on them. We are victims of social media; we are at a stage where we are no longer using the platform instead the platform is using us.
FOMO can also trigger anxiety or feelings of loneliness. With FOMO, you may cycle through self-critical thoughts like: “What will happen if I miss something or if I’m not there?”, “Will I be talked about negatively for missing the event?”, “Will people think less of me because I’m not following a certain trend?” It can also lead some people to do or say things they typically wouldn’t just to appear “in the know” or get in with a “cool” crowd.
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Well, now that we know what FOMO is, let’s find out ways to deal with it: -
1. Getting in more quality time: Putting your phone down and spending time with loved ones face-to-face can be a great way to re-center your most important relationships. Friends and family are often the best people to turn to when you need to be reminded that you’re worthy of love and acceptance, no matter what other people are doing.
2. Practice a digital detox: Tuning out from digital spaces like social media can help you become more present and intentional in your everyday life. Detoxing from social media that may cause FOMO can also be a great way to refresh your connection to yourself and what you love. While you are busy dealing with FOMO of hanging out with others, you are missing hanging out with the most important one, you!
3. Realize That You Might Not Actually Be Missing Out: When you think closely about it, social media is really more of a reflection of who we want to be, rather than who we really are. The bigger issue is that when social media and FOMO collide, we might find we’re comparing ourselves to these exaggerated lives of others. We’ll never match up to it because it’s simply not realistic. Stop and realize these lives you're witnessing online are completely virtual and not real. Remember the last several times you hung out with a friend and she frowned in the corner the whole time, yet somehow managed to post a few fun pictures from that meet of yours? It’s more than likely she’s pulling the same thing when you’re at home right now with FOMO. It’s very simple to post the highs and omit the lows. Keep that in mind before you let yourself get too upset.
4. Practicing meditation and mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, like meditation and yoga, can be wonderful for developing a sense of calm and remaining in the present moment. Quieting the mind and focusing on your breathing can increase your own awareness that whatever is currently causing FOMO may not be worth your energy or time. Even taking a nice walk-in nature can help restore a sense of balance and purpose that you simply can’t get from scrolling and liking posts on Instagram.
5. Journaling: Journaling may help you identify what triggers your FOMO. When you have a clear idea of who or what causes your fears of missing out, it may be easier to reframe your relationship around those thoughts and feelings.
FOMO isn’t forever. Doing your best to be present can help remind you that you are enough as you are, right here, right now :)