Social networking can be both a blessing and a curse. It's excellent for getting in contact with old friends, meeting new people with similar interests, and exchanging ideas—but it's also a breeding ground for self-comparison, like a bully who eats away at your self-esteem. Its preferred weapon? FOMO is an abbreviation for "fear of missing out."
FOMO is defined as a sense of inferiority and anxiety over missing out on significant experiences caused by self-comparison and exacerbated by social media. It's rife, with more than half of all social media users and over two-thirds of Millennials reporting such concerns.
Here are a few suggestions for dealing with your crippling FOMO and living the kind of life you don't want to miss out on:
Fear: You'll have FOMO for the rest of your life
According to research, FOMO preys on and exacerbates (rather than simply creating) unhappiness. This creates a mental trap that is difficult to break—as Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake puts it, "Social software is both the cause and the treatment of FOMO." It's a cyclical phenomenon." This means that most of us experience FOMO from time to time, but we usually choose to "join 'em" rather than "defeat 'em" by providing equally tempting pictures of our own lives to try to stay up with those who triggered the sensation in the first place. We will always feel as if we are failing. We fall short... As a result, the cycle continues.
Step out of the cycle to fix it.
The first step in combating FOMO is to reduce your time spent on social media. The average person will spend more than 5 years on social media in their lifetime, and this figure is rising. Keep track of the amount of time you spend monitoring your gadgets and then set some limits. Aim to check your phone twice or three times per day. Then, call attention to why you're posting rather than just what you're posting. Posting out of fear or a desire to compete only feeds your FOMO, but becoming more attentive of the process will help you reclaim control.
Fear: You're in the wrong place at the wrong moment.
When you're continuously afraid of missing out, you wind up missing out...on your own life. Don't let social media steal your inner serenity by making you wish you were somewhere else or lose sight of what you already have. If you consistently focus on what you don't have, you'll always feel as if you're falling short.
Improve it by: Practicing appreciation
Try fostering a grateful mentality by opposing negative thoughts about what you don't have with a reminder of what you do have. Reclaim social media as a tool for maximizing thankful relationships—use it to schedule plans with friends, share images with relatives, and sustain long-distance ties. That was the original intention of social media: to serve as a tool for connecting.
Fear: You're worried that you don't measure up.
When you get caught up in the glitz and glam that others display on their social media feeds, it's easy to forget that the same individuals who post great selfies, brunches with mimosas, and scenic holiday vistas also have awful days—they just don't choose to broadcast them. Social media is highly cultivated: you see what people want you to see, not what they actually see. You're comparing your blunders to the highlights of someone else's career.
Make it right by putting yourself first.
Rather than allowing other people's perceptions of you to determine how you should be, assess your own particular principles. Investigate what is at the root of your FOMO: Do you have the feeling that something is missing in your life? Could you cultivate and deepen your relationships with others? Pay attention to your requirements. If you need some R&R instead of a noisy, crowded, and Instagrammable party tonight, do it and own it.
The most important account is the one you keep for yourself, and you have as much power over your thoughts as you have over your social media profiles. In fact, by using social media as a tool to relish the moment rather than a means to live it, you may begin to make the most of your life rather than miss it.