Fear of missing out (FOMO) has become a common problem in the modern society, especially among teenagers and younger adults. This concept refers to the feelings of apprehension, uneasiness and anxiety that occur when a person feels that they are missing out on certain events and that their peers have better and more valuable experiences. FOMO usually causes these individuals to rely on social networks to stay in the loop and relieve their anxiety. However, social media are far from the solution. On the contrary, they just contribute to a person’s dissatisfaction with their personal lives, which can cause serious issues, such as depression and anxiety.
The roots of FOMO
Various factors can cause fear of missing out, but perhaps the crucial period when this feeling takes hold of one’s life is adolescence. During adolescence, teenagers start differentiating themselves from their parents and seeking support from their peers. Social relationships are of the utmost importance at this time, so any problems in this aspect may cause fear of missing out. For example, a teenager who has been bullied by their peers can feel withdrawn and left out. Consequently, they rely on social media to satisfy their needs for social interactions and experiences that their peers are having. Furthermore, individuals who are generally unhappy with their lives due to poor financial status, problems in the family, or health issues may also be at risk of developing FOMO.
This problem may occur in individuals who are happy with their lives and have a lot of friends, but who are actually missing out on certain experiences for other reasons. For instance, hard-working students who are dedicated to their education may focus solely on their studies. Students who want to enrol in a prestigious college, such as a school of medicine, often neglect their social lives, which can result in FOMO. A possible solution for these individuals is to seek help from their teachers or apply for additional courses, such as exhaustive GAMSAT tutoring, to get through this stressful process. This way, they will be able to relieve pressure and have more free time to spend with their friends.
The effects of FOMO
Fear of missing out can be detrimental to a person’s general well-being. An individual with FOMO typically turns to social networks to fill the void and be more socially involved, which can affect other aspects of their lives. An excessive use of social media can be a major distraction for a person and prevent them from focusing on their personal development, education and career. Social networks can also put a person under a lot of pressure because they are exposed to the picture-perfect lives of their peers, which can further strengthen their FOMO and affect their already fragile self-esteem. All of this can cause negative emotional experiences, anxiety and depression, which can eventually even affect their health and result in psychosomatic issues.
Fear of missing out can also have a negative impact on a person’s long-term goals and self-esteem. If they constantly feel that they are missing out and that other people have better lives, they can form a negative image of themselves, lose their self-esteem and start doubting their abilities. Eventually, their low self-esteem actually hinders their chances of success and increases their chances of failure. This inevitably reinforces their initial negative opinion of themselves and causes them to live vicariously through other people’s lives. Thus, they remain trapped in the vicious circle of FOMO.
The solution for FOMO
Letting your fear of missing out govern your life will only result in unhappiness, personal dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. You need to face your fear and eventually overcome it. The first step is to admit that you have a real problem because it will be much easier to accept that you cannot be everywhere or do the same things like your peers. Afterwards, you need to limit your activity on social networks. You can choose a specific time of day to check your accounts and spend the rest of the day social media-free.
Learning how to control your attention will greatly reduce your fear of missing out. If you don’t pay attention to social media and other people’s experiences, you will be less likely to experience FOMO and social anxiety. You should withdraw your attention from the negative and focus it on the positive. You can do this through expressing your gratitude for the things you have, which will help you stop comparing your life to others.
Practicing mindfulness will also help you control your fear of missing out by helping you appreciate the present experience rather than obsessing over the “what ifs” of life.
Finally, if you feel that you need more support, you can always seek help from a counsellor or psychologist. They can help you understand your feelings better, determine the main cause and then overcome them.
Fear of missing out is a serious issue that stems from a person’s unhappiness, personal dissatisfaction and constant comparison to others. Instead of obsessing over other people’s lives, put your phone down and appreciate what you have.