Have you ever felt the need to go through social media multiple times within a day just to stay updated on the latest posts? Or have there been times you looked at your phone every other minute because you would feel anxious if you missed any messages or notifications? Then you may have a fear of missing out (FoMO).
FoMO is a social media-related phenomenon in which you constantly feel anxious or worried that others are going through pleasant experiences and opportunities without you. Consequently, you may use social media repeatedly in order to stay connected with others and combat the fear (Gutpa & Sharma, 2021).
Why Do We Feel FoMO?
People are social beings, and thus they naturally have the need to form connections with others. However, some people may have a higher need to belong or a stronger desire to form and maintain these connections than others (Alabri, 2022). Others may fear that they may accidentally pass on opportunities or important information, like missing times to hang out with others or activities you may enjoy. Some may also be worried that their peers’ perception of them may change if they are not active or unable to go on social media. There are also those that have difficulty interacting with others, like those who have social anxiety or those who have a hard time dealing with different social situations (Alutaybi et al., 2020). These fears and needs can develop into FoMO; thus, people spend plenty of time on social media in order to address it.
How Can FoMO Affect Us?
FoMO has several negative consequences on your mental health. For one, FoMO can increase your stress and anxiety levels since it pressures you to always stay up to date and troubles you when you are unable to keep up (Tanhan et al., 2022). The pressure to keep up also compels you to always be on social media. This may lead to problematic social media usage which can develop into an addiction. You may also tend to compare yourselves to others especially when you see them going through fun and rewarding experiences. This self-comparison may give you feelings of inadequacy and insecurity which can lower your self-esteem and increase symptoms of depression (Gutpa & Sharma, 2021; Tanhan et al., 2022).
FoMO can also impair your social functioning. Some people use social media to alleviate their loneliness and compensate for social anxiety. However, relying on social media for this purpose can make you avoid real face-to-face interactions with people which can further exacerbate your feelings of loneliness and social anxiety. Relying on social media for communication can also result in less meaningful interactions and relationships since expression of verbal and nonverbal cues is limited, or you feel differently between online and face-to-face interactions. Thus, you may be more dissatisfied with your face-to-face relationships (Gutpa & Sharma, 2021).
FoMO can reduce your performance and productivity. Always checking your social media, especially while you work, can distract you from tasks that require your focus. Constantly switching between doing your work and checking social media can reduce your attention span and disconnect you from your class or work. It can also increase the risk for making mistakes while doing your task. Additionally, spending high amounts of time on social media means delaying your responsibilities. FoMO can therefore result in reduced performance and activity, whether it be for work or school (Gutpa & Sharma, 2021; Tanhan et al., 2022).
FoMO can deteriorate our physical health and well-being. Time spent on social media promotes a sedentary lifestyle, which is related to an increased risk of obesity. Always looking at your phone can also impair your vision over time. You may also develop a poor posture which can lead to muscle pain in the neck, back, and hands (Gutpa & Sharma, 2021). FoMO can especially impact your sleep. More time on your phone means less time for sleep. You may develop an irregular sleeping pattern in which you always go to bed late and you have a hard time falling and staying asleep which reduces your sleep quality (Tanhan et al., 2022).
How Do We Cope With FoMO?
The following are some strategies to help deal with FoMO (Alutaybi et al., 2022; Tanhan et al., 2022). Even if the fear may not go away immediately, it can still be managed and eventually conquered over time.
Set Notification and App Settings
You can limit your time on social media by adjusting your notification and app settings. For example, you can set your notifications to not disturb you at certain times or to only receive notifications from certain apps or people. You can also lock your apps so you cannot use them for a set time. If there are times you are unavailable to reply to messages, you can set autoreplies or notify people ahead of time.
Do a Social Media Detox
Sometimes, it is best to take a break from social media all together to get your mind off of it. Try doing offline activities like drawing, making music, and hanging out with peers. You may even spend time outdoors by exercising or relaxing in nature. A social media detox can help you refresh yourself and rest from keeping up with the world.
Manage your Expectations
Managing your expectations can help regulate your behavior. For example, expect that you and others have your own lives and may not respond to each other right away. With how active the world is, there may be some posts and information you might miss, and that is alright. You cannot keep up with everything in this fast-moving world. Additionally, social media does not always reveal the true, complete story, so comparisons may not be realistic or 100% accurate. Reminding yourself of these things can make it easier to cope with missing out.
You can’t always keep up with what’s happening in the world. Rather than chasing after every moment and opportunity, try to appreciate what you have now. Remember the simple, small things in life and the people around you. You may even try keeping a diary to remind you of these things. Practicing gratitude can make you content with what you have and redirect your focus to the present.
Spend Time with People
Even if we can interact with people online, it cannot replace real interactions and relationships. If you feel lonely or depressed, try seeking out connections with others. If you feel socially anxious or inept, then spend time with people you are comfortable being with like family or close friends. Spending time with people can help combat loneliness and the feeling of missing out.
In today’s day and age, social media is now an intricate part of our lives. However, it is still important to use it in moderation and to balance it out with other things we need to dedicate our time to. If you can’t keep up with others and the world around you, it’s alright. Live your life to the fullest and enjoy the present moment.
We at Fidecita wish you the best in your mental health endeavors. Click here to know more about Fidecita HR Advisory’s Mental Health Care services.
Alabri, A. (2022). Fear of missing out (FoMO): The effects of the need to belong, perceived centrality, and fear of social exclusion. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 2022, 4824256. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/4824256
Alutaybi, A., Al-Thani, D., McAlaney, J., & Ali, R. (2020). Combating fear of missing out (FoMO) on social media: The FoMO-R method. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(17), 6128. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176128
Gupta, M., & Sharma, A. (2021). Fear of missing out: A brief overview of origin, theoretical underpinnings and relationship with mental health. World Journal of ClinicalCcases, 9(19), 4881–4889. https://doi.org/10.12998/wjcc.v9.i19.4881
Tanhan, F., Özok, H. İ., & Tayiz, V. (2022). Fear of missing out (FoMO): A current review. Current Approaches in Psychiatry, 14(1), 74-85. http://dx.doi.org/10.18863/pgy.942431