Missing out on FOMO

We may be well acquainted with the concept of FOMO, which stands for the “feeling of missing out”; whether we notice it in ourselves or in others.

Whilst social media usage has accelerated interest and research into the impact of FOMO, it has been around far earlier than social media platforms.

FOMO highlights our human desire for social connection and belonging and our fear of social exclusion.

FOMO commonly refers to feeling or believing that others are having more fun and enjoying better lives than you are. It’s not solely about feeling like you could be doing something better in that moment; it also includes feeling that you’re missing out on a meaningful experience that others are having. 

Research is showing that anyone can be affected by FOMO regardless of age or gender; not only teenagers or young adults; although many early research studies focused on the impact of FOMO on younger people. 

The psychological  impact of frequently experiencing FOMO can show up in several ways such as:

  • Irritability
  • Decline in productivity and task performance
  • Decline of sleep quality
  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Decreased life satisfaction
  • Low self-esteem

Several concepts have come about, inspired by FOMO

FOBO (Fear of Better Options): Fearing that you are missing out on potentially better opportunities..

MOMO (Mystery of Missing Out): Fearing that you are missing out and not clearly knowing what you’re missing out on.

ROMO: (Reality of Missing Out): Knowing that you aren’t missing out on anything.

FOJI (Fear of Joining In): The fear of sharing things on social media and not generating any response.

JOMO (Joy of Missing Out): This is the opposite of FOMO and refers to feeling good about missing out. 

Suggestions for challenging frequent experiences of FOMO: 

  • Understand and name what experiencing FOMO is for you. You can use these inquiries to explore:
    • What particular feelings do you associate with experiencing FOMO? (For example sadness or anxiety)
    • What do you think and feel you are missing out on? Go deeper than the event itself. Missing out on dinner with friends might mean to someone that they are missing out on strengthening friendships and fear getting left out in future or forgotten about. 
    • Why is this experience important to you?  What meaning are you giving it?
    • What do you want to experience instead of FOMO? 
  • Identify your triggers for FOMO. For example, on social media, it may be helpful to remove people or limit contact with those who impact your experience of FOMO.
  • Consider that what you see on social media is a snippet of someone’s experience (and very possibly filtered and edited to convey a particular message). We’re not seeing what’s happening outside the frame of an image, or privy to the vast complexity of anyone’s experience of a moment. 
  • Utilise mindfulness and/or meditation techniques to focus on the present moment and increase contentment within. JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) is considered the antidote to FOMO and comes about from being present and content with where you are in life. 
  • Focus on what you are grateful for. With frequent practice, experiencing gratitude can become a natural aspect of your daily life. 
  • Confide in trusted friends and loved ones about your feelings.
  • Write your emotions in a journal, perhaps as a daily practice.
  • See a therapist to explore thoughts, feelings and beliefs for clarity, insight and changing behaviour. 
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