Have you ever scrolled through social media and noticed that it seems as if everyone has fun summer plans except for you? If you can relate to this fixation over what others are doing, you may be experiencing a phenomenon called the ‘Fear of Missing Out’, also known as ‘FOMO.’ While FOMO is prevalent throughout the year, it is more likely to be experienced during the summer. In the winter, partaking in social activities is more challenging due to the temperature drop and early sundown. In the summer, warm weather and breaks from school and work allow you to escape mundane routines for social activities. For those who experience FOMO, the summer can seem like a constant struggle to keep up with others by maintaining a social itinerary the size of a dictionary. When your social itinerary does not quite match your peers, you can develop feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and shame. This article will explore FOMO, where it came from and how you can learn to limit its control.
What is FOMO?
FOMO is an anxiety-driven feeling that people develop through an extreme sense of belonging to a group, event, or moment and often goes hand-in-hand with social media. According to Mashable, FOMO is experienced by 56% of social media users. One cause of FOMO that is heightened by social media can be the development of social expectations. These social expectations are a consequence of social activities you believe you should be partaking in. According to John M. Grohol of Psych Center, FOMO is the potential for simply a different connection. It may be better or worse — we don't know until we check." The problem with desiring this "different" connection is it makes you feel ashamed, especially if your summer does not reflect what is being advertised on social media. You should aim to enjoy social activities rather than looking at them as something to check off a box. Below are strategies that can help you through your experiences of FOMO.
Create Boundaries with Social Media
While there are positives to using social media, such as staying in contact with family and friends, social media also has a direct link to this phenomenon. Research suggests that people who showed more FOMO than others also showed more problematic social media use. When experiencing FOMO, creating boundaries with your social media usage is beneficial. One way to create a boundary between yourself and social media is to block times designated solely for social media use throughout your day. By creating boundaries, you limit the chances of falling into the trap of comparison and admiring other people's lives, which lead to FOMO.
Another way to fight FOMO is to learn to start viewing a social activity for what it is, something enjoyable. By doing this, you are allowing yourself to enjoy the experience of a social activity, not the symbol that comes with it. This practice can also help you better appreciate the company you are with and enjoy the experience of getting to know someone better. Focusing on the experience allows you to participate in all the positive emotions that can come with social activities, such as happiness and excitement.
FOMO often paints an illusion of what happiness is. Through practicing mindfulness, you can strive for more profound satisfaction by being present in your life and focusing on where you are, not where you think you should be. Mindfulness also allows you to enjoy life's mundane pleasures rather than seeking more out of life than your current situation provides. Through mindfulness, gratitude can also be developed, which will enable you to be fully in touch with reality. All in all, enjoying the present moment allows you to shift your focus to your current experience.
By prioritizing what is important to you, you can focus more on what a particular activity means for you rather than the social symbol it reflects. By accepting and discovering what you truly desire, you can see that the things you feel you are missing out on are not as important to you as you initially thought. Through prioritization, you are also connecting to your identity rather than chasing the identity of someone you believe you should be. Deciding what to prioritize allows you to stay busy and cut off what is unimportant.
In conclusion, there is no easy solution to FOMO. Through practicing the tips laid out above, you can begin to shift your mindset away from this way of thinking. By not feeling as if you are missing out on something greater, you focus on life’s experiences as the gifts they are.