Why we all suffer from FOMO

Confident or not, we all suffer from FOMO at times and if, like me, you’ve grown up with social media, seeing everyone’s best lives splashed across your phone or laptop screen, you’ve probably felt FOMO (fear of missing out) at some point in your life too.

Since the beginning of time, people have been concerned about where they ‘stand’ socially, and some more so than others. The advent of social media in the 21st century however has brought society’s anxieties about missing out on certain events and activities much more into the spotlight. Young people, particularly, seem affected by this.

A study in Australia in 2015 found that 60% of teenagers became anxious when they thought that their friends were doing things without them. Whilst this feeling has probably been the same for decades, we now have the double hit of having to see the fun we are not included in posted online via Instagram or TikTok.

How can we combat these all too common feelings of being left out and missing out? One important thing to keep in mind is the fact that people only share their best experiences on social media. Whether it’s a holiday, a party, a nice restaurant, or some new clothes, people only want to share what’s good in their lives and at moments they feel happy. It is very rare that you see someone posting about, for example, having to take the bins out, having an argument or waking up with a spot on their nose. The first rule then is to remember that social media in no way represents real life; in fact, it usually represents a glorified version of what is probably a pretty mundane life- just like everyone else’s!

Another way to deal with FOMO caused by social media is to have a temporary ‘digital detox’. Whilst this might sound drastic, and to some people - who are truly addicted - like the worst idea in the world, it is easier than you’d think. I’m not encouraging you to delete your profiles and accounts forever, but there is certainly something to be said for removing, for example, the Instagram app from your phone for a day or a week at a time. You may feel that this refreshes your mind and you’re more able to live in the moments that you are experiencing yourself, as opposed to spending hours scrolling through perfect snaps of people you vaguely or do not know at all.

And the most obvious thing to do is to look at the positives in your own life instead of focusing on how (supposedly) ‘perfect’ someone else’s is. If you’ve got friends whose posts are causing you FOMO, then focus on the fact that you’ve got some wonderful friends, doing cool stuff and that it is ok not always to have to do these things together. And If you find yourself drawn to the accounts of celebrities and staring envyingly at Jennifer Garner’s fabulous cooking in her fabulous house- why not do some cooking yourself!

FOMO is luckily, mostly, a passing feeling and if you feel a pang of it, think about the person causing you FOMO sitting at home watching Netflix whilst scrolling through Instagram and feeling maybe some FOMO themselves.

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