Why FOMO is Addictive and How to Overcome It
What is FOMO? The official definition of FOMO is:
Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
But I don’t need to tell you what the definition is, you have all experienced how it feels when your friends are on social media doing something and you aren’t. Missing out on all those jokes, adventures and plans. Feeling excluded. We have all felt the gnawing anxiety of FOMO as it ruins our once happy moods with envy and sadness. Even if we got invited. Even if we turned down going to this event simply because we didn’t want to. Even if we couldn’t think of anything worse to be doing. FOMO does not discriminate. FOMO worms it’s way into your mindset and sets of that anxiety that makes you breathe just a little faster. So why do we fear missing out? In this article, you’ll learn more about the causes of FOMO and what you can do to deal with it.
Why Do We Fear Missing Out?
Simply, because we are humans. We are social creatures and most importantly, pack animals. To be socially included is a survival instinct. If we were rejected by our pack, we were left out to the elements to die so it is biologically programmed into us to want to be included and be a part of the pack. Since the days of being a cave humans, our societies have drastically progressed since then. Social rejection doesn’t mean death anymore, it is more death to the ego than actual death. But since the rise of Social Media, our primal FOMO has resurfaced because all the things we could be doing to be included are shoved in our face 24/7. Life isn’t one long party, in between the parties and fun adventures, there is mundane, routine life! And while our routine, mundane life can be wonderful, we still get insecure that our life isn’t perceived as interesting and that is thanks to Social Media.
How FOMO Affects Our Lives
40 years ago, FOMO wasn’t that much a problem because long distance communication wasn’t great. Instead of having 500 hundred friends, we have a few friends that were nearby and if they were doing something, we had no idea and therefore, were not triggered to feel FOMO. Unless someone rubbed it in your face that you weren’t there, then we felt left out. But now, social media dominates our lives with everyone’s exciting highlights reel bombarding our minds. We always make the assumption that everyone else’s life is so much fuller and more exciting than our own.
Thanks to advancing technology, we are subjected to huge amounts of information constantly and it is too much for our brain. We can’t tell what person has done what, it all kind of blurs into one and that one person is everyone. Everyone is doing all this cool stuff, all the time, 24/7 and you aren’t. All this information is emotionally and mentally overwhelming us and it is exhausting. FOMO is a cyclic compulsion that we can’t quit. We are addicted to distraction, using social media as a mental break, in doing so making ourselves feel bad from FOMO and so we scroll more. We are addicted to social media and we are not good at practicing good social media health. As much as I would like to blame social media giants for creating platforms that are designed to be addictive, we are the ones that open the app, scroll and feed the addiction everyday. We are the ones that don’t unfollow bad channels, bad people and negativity. In real life, if someone doesn’t bring you happiness and joy, you avoid them and you avoid all communication with them. But you still have them as a facebook friend, you have unfollowed them in real life but not in your virtual life which is in many ways worse. So what is the result of this overwhelming information and lack of proper social media care? Your mental health is in tatters. FOMO has a detrimental effect on our mental health, causing mood swings, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, reduced self-esteem, anxiety and depression.((Economics Time: How FOMO is affecting your mental health, and needs to be addressed))
You see all these things happening around you and you feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of things going on without you. There are so many avenues to go down and you don’t have the time, energy or resources to all of these things. Even if we did one of them, there will always be 10,000 more things that other people are doing and we feel insignificant.
Specifically, fear of exclusion. You feel excluded and therefore afraid on a base level, like if you missed out on this one thing, you will be excluded forever and therefore, fear for your survival in a social group.
We feel uninteresting, boring and average. Fearing that we will be perceived as boring if we don’t attend all the social events, even if we didn’t want to go. We instinctively care about what people think of us and we use this information to bully ourselves. Making us anxious and depressed, which in turn, makes us anxious at social events so we can’t have fun.
Being Set in a Comparison Mindset
The comparison mindset is a cancer that ruins your life. We love to compare ourselves to others to work out where we are on the scale of success, because we love succeeding and progressing. It is in our nature. But the comparison mindset only leads to self hate because we are finding reasons we aren’t succeeding and we bully ourselves about it. Don’t compare yourself to anyone because you aren’t comparable in any form. No one has walked your life, not even an identical twin and no one has what you have. Instead of bullying yourself for your lacks, focus on your blessings and express gratitude for it. Learn more about the comparison mindset here: The More We Compare, the More We Lose Ourselves
How to Overcome FOMO
FOMO kills happiness. Comparison is the thief of joy and as we compare our lives to those on social media, even though we cannot be compared because our lives are so beautifully different. So what can we do to overcome it?
1. Know That Social Media Isn’t Reality
Understand that social media isn’t reality, there are so many posts of happy cheerful faces doing something cool and being included. But it doesn’t tell the story of the person who is smiling through gritted teeth because really, they didn’t want to be there.
2. Embrace JOMO
JOMO is the Joy In Missing Out. When you feel the tugs of comparison and fear, just remind yourself of your worth and take a moment to show gratitude to what you are doing right now. What you are doing right now is someone else’s dream. Practice gratitude and remind yourself that just because something else is happening without you, doesn’t mean they you aren’t important.
Reassuring yourself that just because something is happening doesn’t mean that your worth is affected in anyway. FOMO is caused by a instinctual fear for survival. The best way to deal with a fear is to reassure yourself that you are safe and you are physically, emotionally and mentally are safe. You are still interesting, important and full of worth.
4. Ask Yourself, “Did You Really Want to Be There?”
Seriously, did you really want to be there? I know the travel FOMO when someone is on a warm beach in living Bali with the beautiful yoga poses and you feel the FOMO. But ask yourself, do you really want that life? It isn’t as great as instagram makes it seem. Also, we get FOMO from parties and events that if we were there, we would hate. We often just want to be seen doing something so we feel cool so people will think we are interesting, which leads to.
5. Try Not to Care What People Think of You
This one isn’t so easily done but it shouldn’t matter what people think of you. You shouldn’t spend your life trying to get favorable opinions from people who wouldn’t turn up to your funeral. I have written a previous article on how to stop caring about what other people think of you here: How to Stop Caring What People Think and Focus on Your Needs
6. See the Larger Picture
We sit there and torture ourselves on all the things that we are missing out on. The reality is, in your entire life, this one thing that is making you feel the FOMO is a grain of sand in the ocean. In less than 24 hours, it won’t matter to you at all, so don’t let it ruin your day because in your whole life, it is nothing.
7. Make More Plans
If you feel FOMO because you feel like you aren’t doing much with your life, go and do something. You are the master of your life. If you feel like you are being left out, go to more events with people. Alternatively, if you are an introvert like me, try a class, learn a new skill, book a flight, go on a walk, cut your hair. Go do things while you still can! Life is short so fill it with adventure!
Check in with your emotions more and take better care of yourself. Take time each day to sit and watch the rain with a cup of tea or meditate, nap, go for a short walk. Spend some time not connected to the internet so your brain has a moment to play catch up and rest. Try some of these 40 Self Care Techniques To Rejuvenate And Restore Yourself.
9. Clear up Your Social Media
Get rid of anything that makes you feel sad, down or depressed on social media. Make sure your social media is a place of positivity and happiness. The benefit of social media is you can unfollow people but not unfriend them. In this way, you can stop listening to their opinions all day without hurting their feelings.
10. Be Excited for Other People
If you see someone who is on holiday and you feel the FOMO, you don’t have to unfollow them or throw shade. Be happy for them. Be grateful for where you are right now and the adventures you have had. Be happy for all these people who are living amazing fun lives and know that it has nothing to do with you.
FOMO is a mindset that makes us feel anxious, depressed and most commonly, boring and uninteresting. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. FOMO is only going to get more and more difficult as more of our lives go online, so I hope these techniques can help you overcome FOMO more easily.
More Tips about Mental Strength
- The 5-Step Guide to Self Care for Busy People
- How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others & Celebrate Your Uniqueness
- How to Turn Your Fear of Missing Out into a Joy of Missing Out