FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. It has been a popular concept for the last decade or so—largely because of the corresponding rise of social media.
Many people are now linking FOMO and social media but FOMO isn’t a new concept. It’s been around since almost the dawn of time.
Before social media, you were afraid of missing out. The insecurity of being left out was strong when a friend didn’t invite you to a party, when you didn’t understand an inside joke of others, or when someone knew something you had never heard of.
Humans Are Designed to Fear Missing Out
Consistent inclusion makes people feel safe. Humans were designed to live together in communities.
Imagine you are on a scout team. The scout team goes into a jungle but leaves you behind. As they build a camp together, you’re left alone. How do you feel?
Probably lonely. You feel as if you’re not needed and easy to forget about. You have no value. Because you’re alone with the elements, you understand there’s a degree of danger to the situation. It’s scary.
Sticking together is safe. Being left out is insecure. This perception is reinforced when people have got in touch with the social media. Social media has made this worse but it didn’t create it. Now people have a desire to not get left out both digitally and in the real world, that’s how the problem has compounded.
Chasing for Inclusion Intensifies the Fear
FOMO creates an overwhelming situation socially. If you seek to never be left out, you will always pursue friends’ gatherings, every single piece of information, all the inside jokes, etc. It becomes too much. Your energy drains, and you lose time and effort towards other projects, relationships, and work. The only thing you get from chasing an end to FOMO is a sense of instant gratification for being “in the know” or “never left out.” That chase, however, has no end in sight. It’s exhausting.
It also creates a context where your self-esteem can become based on the approval of others, which is dangerous. Most people don’t have the attention to pay to the entire social sphere, online or in-person, so you’ll always be left out of events or info here and there because it would be impossible to always be included. But if your self-esteem is tied up in others’ approval, those moments when you are left out will hurt even more. You can begin to question your basic value.
The Joy of Missing Out
Think of life like this: how worthy you are depending on two things. (1) is what you do and (2) how you contribute. Your self-worth cannot be tied to missing out on the events of others. Think about what you want for yourself, not what others want for themselves.
When you’re clear about what you want, the things you miss out on tend to be less important. What you have missed out will no longer hold on to you.
To experience the joy of missing out, you need to realize that your own worth comes from within. You are the only person you can control. Approve yourself and make the security come from within. The fear of missing out will no longer haunt you when you feel safe with what you have within.
One of the first rules of building self-esteem is to focus on improving yourself but never expect perfection. You need to start weaning yourself off your bad habits and onto new ones. View life through a prism of “progress not perfection.” Perfection is unattainable for almost all of us. But progress at the aspects of life you care about—relationships, health, your profession, financial literacy, etc.—is possible. Try to track where you are week-to-week and month-to-month. As you see progress, you will begin to feel better about yourself. Try saving $10 one week, then $15 the next week, then $20. In a year, you’ll be trying to save $500+ per week. Progress.
As you build self-esteem through these methods and take care of you, the need for FOMO will slip away.
Read more about how to boost your self-esteem: We Don’t Need More Likes, We Need Self-Esteem
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
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