Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a term brought about by our digital age. It’s the feeling we have when we’re unable to attend a social engagement – a barbecue for example – because we’ve already accepted an invitation – say to the cinema – by other friends. In reality, we want to do them both for fear of missing something.
But the question is, why has FOMO become such a thing?
It might be useful to stop and ask ourselves next time we feel it, what is it we are actually feeling and what has triggered us to feel it?
Social media can intensify our FOMO. In our digital age, most of us have a smartphone or tablet nearby and check them often. Whilst we are busy doing one thing, we may check into a social media account and see others engaging in something else. Part of us may wish we could be doing that too or even instead of what we are currently doing.
FOMO can affect us in many ways. It can invoke feelings of envy…. we want to be doing what others are doing, or wish we could be involved in the alternative activity in case it may be ‘better’ than what we are currently doing… that our life is less interesting, or enjoyable or worthwhile somehow.
FOMO can minimise the enjoymènt we are currently experiencing by distracting us from the good time we are already having and evoking feelings of discontent and unease instead.
So what can we do about it?
The main antidote for FOMO is to practice being fully attentive to what we are doing. If we are able to live in the moment, be fully conscious of where we are and what we are doing, we will appreciate our choices and our current situation far more and not feel drawn to carry out distracting behaviours.
Being ‘in the moment’ is easier than it sounds. It can be difficult to concentrate on what we are doing and become fully engaged in whatever it is when there is so much technology to take our attention away. It takes practice and discipline, but a good start is to concentrate on ourselves and work out what fully engages us. What makes us smile? When do we feel alive and genuinely connected to others? What hobby or activity have we always wanted to do but haven’t been brave enough to attempt?
What nurtures us? Is it being outside? Snuggling with a book and our pet? Spending time with people who care about us?
It is up to us to spend some time exploring what makes us feel fully alive, in order to appreciate the choices we make and not feel we might be missing out.