It’s common for those born in the 70s and 80s to look back and think, “Ahh… life was so much simpler back then.”
This nostalgic reminiscing may actually contain a kernel of truth if we stopped to look at the millions of people suffering from FOMO. This informal abbreviation refers to the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ which is a very real fear that so many people have without even realizing it.
With the advent of technology, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the constant barrage of social media notifications – one is ‘wired’ into life almost every waking moment of their existence.
Just look around and you’ll see countless people with their faces glued to their mobile phone screens, oblivious to their surroundings as they go about their daily activities. This scene would have been unseemly in the past but has become the norm now.
So, what is FOMO?
When you have FOMO, you’re constantly trying to get the most out of the day. You’ll sacrifice sleep to spend more time on social media. You’ll always feel the need to do more, be more and get more.
This may seem good if one is looking at it from a self-help perspective… but very often, a person with FOMO is usually engaged in non-productive, busy work that neither elevates their mind nor their life.
They’re not going anywhere, but they can’t wait to get there.
Signs of FOMO
If you notice that you or someone you know is displaying the signs below, you can be almost certain that you/they have FOMO:
1. Constantly on social media
Since social media is designed to keep you hooked, you’ll be getting a mild dopamine hit every time you check your notifications. Likes, ‘thumbs-ups’, comments, etc. are all little hits of ‘validation’ that keep you glued to the platform.
You don’t want to leave because there are always new posts popping up, and others who have FOMO will be online too, and you’ll be able to engage with them easily and incessantly.
By putting your phone aside, it’s almost as if your world has come to a standstill and you’ve left the ‘party’ – and you’re missing out. Definite FOMO!
2. Trying to do as much as possible
A candle that burns brighter because it’s burning at both ends often burns out faster. We live in a world where motivational gurus often preach philosophies of ‘hustling’ and ‘grinding’.
As a result, many people feel like they have to do more all the time just to get ahead in life. They fear that taking a break for any reason means that they’re losing out and delaying success.
So, now we have stressed-out people with frazzled nerves who don’t want to waste a minute while in their pursuit of success – another sign of FOMO.
3. The need to constantly be on the go
This is a very obvious sign. If someone has to update their social media with photos of their food, or ‘check in’ to whichever location they’re at, or post all their thoughts and feelings on their Facebook wall – chances are high that they have FOMO.
The need to be seen by others is a secret need to feel significant. It’s also a desire for validation. This can be seen on Instagram where people blatantly share glamorous lifestyle photos in an attempt to appear successful. This too is a disguised sign of FOMO.
If you’re constantly on your phone (hooked on updates and quickly updating your social media every time you sneeze), you have FOMO. If you reach for your phone several times an hour, you have FOMO.
If you’re photographing and/or video recording everything (to post on social media) instead of enjoying the moment… yes, you have FOMO written all over you.
4. The need to see it all
There’s a reason Netflix posts all the episodes for a TV show at one go. Not only does it give people the opportunity to binge-watch and spend more time on Netflix… but it also appeals to people who have FOMO and can’t bear to miss a single episode. It also keeps them on the platform for as long as possible.
Gone are the days when people would wait an entire week to watch the next episode of MacGyver or The A-Team. Now, it’s all instant and dumped in front of you all at once. Gorge as you please… with a side of FOMO.
If one hates staying home alone and spending time in quiet, they probably have FOMO. They may try to fill the time with unnecessary activities.
They may want to meet friends at social events – and will feel terribly left out, if not invited. The need to be a part of everything will have them constantly stressed out.
In a nutshell, they have a serious case of FOMO.
Now that you know the signs, you can tell if you have a fear of missing out. The good news is that unlike herpes or diabetes, FOMO can be cured relatively easily.
A quick Google search for ‘tips to overcome FOMO’ will give you a list of practices you can adopt and apply to end this pesky problem.
The sooner you overcome this fear, the better. As the saying goes, “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak” – and you’ll discover true joy and inner peace.