Have you heard the term FOMO?
It’s an epidemic sweeping the nation.
Okay, maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but in all seriousness, I first heard the word used jokingly a couple of months ago, but recently, I’ve been seeing it pop up in the media quite often, in a very real context.
FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out.” It can come in many different forms, whether in person (like not wanting to leave a party early for fear of your friends having fun without you) or online (jealously scrolling through Instagram wondering why other people’s lives are so much cooler than your own).
A powerful way to fight FOMO is to recognize that the fabulous life you think you’re missing doesn’t in fact exist. Our media, including social media, present an endless montage of momentary highs disguised as everyday activities. But evaluating other people’s real experience by their carefully curated onscreen images is like trying to navigate with binoculars that show only mountain peaks.
I’ll totally admit that I experience raging cases of FOMO from time to time. I’m guilty of staying at events and social outings longer than I planned or wanted to worried that something TOTALLY AMAZING might happen the instant I leave. In an even more simplistic example, I never want to be the first person to go to bed at night when my family is hanging out doing something as mundane as watching TV together, because what if I miss a hilarious moment or interesting conversation?
Later, I came across this Mashable article reporting that 56 percent of social media users suffer from FOMO. Surprising? I don’t think so.
Social media escalates feelings of FOMO to the nth degree.
For example, five minutes of scrolling through my Instagram feed tells me that all of my friends have perfect lives; I see images of a newly-engaged gorgeous couple, an immaculately-decorated home, an exotic vacation, a cheerful, smiling baby and more so-called “perfect” images of what the user wants to be perceived as an interesting, enviable life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m guilty of posting photos that may elicit FOMO in other people too, but my point is that FOMO is a very real experience that is only getting stronger as social media grows more popular.
The major takeaway from Beck’s article is remembering that many of those moments are perfectly curated for the camera. They often aren’t very real at all and don’t reflect the true story. The beauty of social media is that we’re able to tell our own stories, but the danger in that is that the stories we make up can hurt others or make them feel less satisfied with their own life.
It’s certainly a slippery-slope. I don’t have the cure to FOMO.
In fact, I’m still dealing with my own FOMO feelings and how to cope with them and continue to live my own life with clarity, joy and gratitude, without comparing myself and my experiences to others.
I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t know if there is a right answer. But I absolutely think this is an important topic and one worth discussing and giving the attention it deserves.
Let’s talk it out in the comments below. Do you experience FOMO and do you have any tips for getting over those nasty feelings?