Are you fighting the urge to check your Facebook timeline or Twitter stream right now? You might even have your Pinterest page pulled up right now as you’re reading this. I’m sure I’ll check Twitter a few times while I’m writing this. It’s all a part of the symptom called Fear of missing out, or FOMO.
What is FOMO?
The Fear of missing out is that feeling of anxiety you get when you go a while without being “connected”. That urge you have to see what your friends are doing on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You’re worried that things are going on and you’re not a part of it.
It’s more than just thinking to yourself, “I wonder what Joe is up to?” It’s more like “I must know what Joe, Mary, and Brian are doing”.
FOMO really stems from the fact that a lot of us feel like everyone else is doing something more exciting and interesting than what we’re doing. Even if you’re not necessarily doing anything “boring”, you still have to see what else is going on.
Have you ever been out with someone and they’re on their phone half the time? Or maybe you were the one on the phone. In either case, it doesn’t always mean that you’re having a bad time, you’re just suffering from FOMO.
FOMO isn’t anything new, but it’s starting to spread like the plague. One of the reasons FOMO is really becoming popular is because we can get instant updates on everything that’s going on through social media. All you have to do is check your feed on your phone and you can see what everyone you know is doing. It’s so convenient that it makes it hard to resist, even when you want to.
The Problem With FOMO
FOMO stops you from enjoying your real life because you’re so worried about everything else that’s going on. It also cuts down on your productivity. Constantly stopping what you’re doing to check your email or to see what’s new on Google+ can make you completely lose focus.
Checking your email leads to you coming across a link to an article, which leads you to reading it, which leads you to Tweeting a link to it, which leads you to checking what’s trending, and reading a ton of tweets. Before you know it that one email has taken up an hour of your time.
Basically, FOMO is really time consuming. I like Zoe B’s description,
FOMO drains us of valuable re-charge time where we can rest and fill up the tank.
All FOMO isn’t bad though. I think we all suffer from a little bit of it, but it starts to become a really big issue when you can never get anything done because you’re always stressing about what everyone else is doing. When you get to that point, it’s time to do something about it.
How To Fight FOMO
Here are a few simple tips that will help you reduce the amount of stress in your life from FOMO.
1: Stop signing up to social media sites
The first thing you need to do is stop making accounts on every single social media site that pops up. The more sites you’re a member of, the more people/activities you need to keep up with. Do you really need to follow the same person on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest?
2: Change your notification settings
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Amazon, and even blogs, love to send out emails telling you about everything you’re missing. If you already have anxiety from FOMO, then these reminders won’t help you at all. Most sites have an option to customize how often you receive emails from them. Cut down the amount of emails to one weekly digest, or if you have the will power, turn it off completely.
If anyone wants to get rich, make a service that compiles all of your social media updates into one daily/weekly digest. If that doesn’t exist already, it should.
3: Don’t fall for false hope
Like I said, the root cause of FOMO is the belief that everyone else’s lives are so much more interesting than ours. The truth is that’s rarely ever the case. If everyone’s life was as action packed as social media makes it seem, there wouldn’t be as many people on social media.
Media is used to capture the most exciting and intriguing stories. Would you have the same urge to check Instagram every 5 minutes if all anyone posted was pics of themselves watching TV?
4: Add some spice to your life
You might be envious of other peoples lives because yours isn’t as exciting as you’d like it to be. And so you start spending more time following people on social media than actually living your life. Then you wind up in an endless cycle. One study proved that people that have bad cases of FOMO spend a lot more time on social media.
If that sounds like you, then it’s time to start doing more of the things you like. Or maybe try something new. Make it so that you’re too busy enjoying your own life to worry about what everyone else is doing.
5: Develop offline relationships
I read an article that said that people have twice as many virtual friends as real life ones. That means that your primary way of staying in touch with a majority of your friends is through social networking sites.
This explains why FOMO is so rampant. For your real life friends, you can find out what they’re doing the next time you see them. You already have a good idea of what they’re up to. For everyone else, you have no idea what they’re doing unless you check what they’re posting to Facebook or Instagram. Start establishing more real life relationships and you won’t have to spend so much time worrying about what you’re missing out on.
FOMO In An Infographic
This infographic courtesy of Gravy, formerly known as timeRazor, shows how social media impacts FOMO. I love infographics, and thought this one was pretty cool.
Take The FOMO Quiz
If you’re not sure how bad your FOMO is, here’s a short quiz you can take. You won’t get any in depth diagnosis or anything, but it’s an indicator of whether or not you’re spending too much time on social media.
Is the Fear of Missing Out stressing you out? Check out my 170 Stress Management Techniques for tips on how to reduce stress when FOMO starts to get the best of you.