Thoughts About FOMO That Eat Teens (and Us) Alive

Updated on December 3, 2018
GLORIA CONCEPCION profile image

Gloria Concepcion Moralidad is a writer and graphic designer. She founded Bata Ako Ph advocating children’s rights, literature, and media.

FOMO Eats Teens (and Us) Alive
FOMO Eats Teens (and Us) Alive | Source

You must have experienced the fear of missing out on an opportunity—being absent at an event, a social interaction, or an investment. In short, FOMO is a fear of feeling regret over whether you made a wrong decision. Moreover, you manifest social anxiety and spend time thinking about how things could have been different.

You know what that's called? FOMO—the fear of missing out. Yes, that’s what it sounds like. It’s an apprehension for not having that rewarding feeling of relatedness or belongingness in a group or experience.

FOMO is a serious pervasive mental condition that’s noticeable based on imagined scenarios and manifests itself in real-world behaviors. Most problems are just being made up in the mind and yet, we suffer greatly from it. From stress and anxiety to fatigue and fever, people allow themselves to go insane over the imagined experience and not the reality of the experience.

Example scenarios:

  1. Missed your coworkers’ party and thinking they’ll bond better next week at work while you’re left behind. They’ll leave you alone and not invite you to any more parties or lunch gatherings and all. You’ll work alone and not make friends at the office. Note: I seriously have those moments!
  2. By not attending these events, you won’t get noticed by leaders of the industry. Your dreams will be crushed.
  3. If you can’t find an apartment in the city, you won’t get that job you want. You’re stuck in a small town and are missing out on the experience of living in the big city to fulfill your dreams.

What Influences FOMO?

FOMO can be attributed to low psychological needs and satisfaction. The growing attention in social media made FOMO even stronger in individuals who are unhappy with their lives.

  • First: Unhappiness. FOMO originates from low levels of satisfaction and you rely on what your peers are doing, what they know about, and what they have.
  • Second: Attention. Obviously, FOMO stems out from people who lack attention and experience unhappiness. They create imagined scenarios of what they are compared to other people.
  • Third: Social Media. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram offer the promise of social involvement at a cost if you let your emotions run unchecked. Unhealthy digital habits rather distort the essence of online interaction, especially when people seek novelty for the sake of attention.

Social media becomes a large contributor to FOMO which progressively leaves people feeling more isolated, lonely, and empty.

Users post an image of themselves which is just a fragment of their imagined life. This online behavior will then manifest itself in reality when the person begins to pressure him/herself of living up to that supposed image.

Meanwhile, people with already low or negative feelings and emotions from social media sites will rile up even more envy towards their friends’ posts and online lives. Stories and newsfeeds of people eating a sumptuous meal to a video of friends traveling outside the country, can cause FOMO to set in.

Social media has created a virtual, perfect life of users. People tend to regularly refresh their feeds and find out what others are doing at the moment. Certain comparisons to these fake lives on social media sites make you feel less.

But social media is merely a tool. Only a daft person can blame the social sites for their unhappiness. It can induce FOMO, only if you let yourself buy into what’s happening.

So, how do you free yourself from the grip of FOMO?

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Whenever you feel that FOMO attack coming, take a breather and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this an accurate image of reality? Facebook or Instagram can be full of lies. You might see a different side of the event or person. I once asked a friend whether his attendance at a graphic design lecture was something insightful (because I really cried for not being there and taking photos of my favorite artists). Sadly, he said the event had gone awry and some people have asked for refunds. Talk about my good luck. Sometimes, other people’s online personas are curated images of how people want others to see them—including, how they wish to see themselves.
  • Do I really need this? Is your FOMO a trigger of something you wish you need to do or want to do? Say you missed a convention because you didn’t have any money to spend. Then you saw your friends having so much fun without you. You may want something it, but actually, you don’t really need it. There’s a fine difference between the two.
  • Why am I feeling this way? You should also check whether there are other factors contributing to your FOMO. Is it the stress of having little money right now or paying the bills the cause of your unhappiness? Did you place someone else’s needs above your own? I talked to my teacher about her dreams and my own. She did give them up for the sake of her family. She was a darn good filmmaker with a strong background and experience in the industry.
  • Is this something important to me right now? Maybe what other people have achieved is indeed what we want in life as well. It’s just that it didn’t happen to us—yet. We feel sad because to us, it’s not the right time or the best time to do it. It could be starting a digital business or printing company that others have achieved while you rot at your home looking for customers. Or you want to have a restaurant on your own, but after six years, you’re still selling home bakes. Instead of minding your own situation or planning for the future, you spend time worrying about what you’re missing out.

How Do You Use Social Media?

Social media can be vexing as it reduces your satisfaction with life. However, as mentioned above, they are simply tools that detract from your life if you allow them to. While social media sites are used for networking, keeping up with events, or connecting with family friends, it can be exhausting to see fake imageries and bickering posts.

Limit your use. We might be guilty of doing this: Wake up each morning and check our Facebook accounts. If we post something yesterday or late last night, we try to count the number of likes we have. Sound familiar? And by the end of the night, you spent 45 minutes checking and liking other people’s posts—probably snooping to see whether you’re better than them or not.

Limit your social media use to 10 minutes and just make a quick scroll of the newsfeeds if you can. You can also try making a checklist on what time you can only open your social media profiles. For example, 10AM to 10:10AM, 12:30PM to 12:40PM, or 8:50PM to 9PM. Something like that.

Try filtering what you can only see. Facebook allows you to filter who can see your profile and whose profile you want to see. You can get to edit your friend's list and put them to “Restricted” if you don’t want them to see your personal life story (I do this when I’m friends with a client on Facebook).

  • You can also unfollow friends if you don’t want to see their posts.
  • You know what? If it annoys you so much, just unfriend them. Or better yet, block them. It’s not the end of the world if you guys aren’t friends on Facebook.

Move your work to somewhere else. Are clients contacting you on Facebook for a project quote? It happens to me. Maintaining a Facebook account will let customers see how you post and do about your social profiles. If they see you are a good fit for their project, they’ll want your services. That’s one benefit of having a social account.

But, it’s best to bring your professionalism elsewhere to avoid using Facebook all the time. You can tell the client to shoot you an email and that’s where you can respond to him or her all the time.

Don’t join the FOMO rat race. If your friend’s status puts you on a FOMO mood, then retreat and log out of your social accounts. Don’t retaliate by posting a status. Engaging your FOMO can only magnify your insecurities.

You’re not the only one gets eaten by FOMO. When one person posts a status, dozens get affected. If you post one status, it can affect several people too. If you want some changes to be done on social media, you can start by being responsible for what you’re going to post.

Turn off and retreat. If you need a serious social media detox, you can temporarily deactivate your account and do a little soul searching. If you find yourself having an addiction to your social profiles, jealousy bouts, and low-esteem by looking at friends’ online photos, you need to lay off. Getting cyberbullied or joining into one is also another reason to turn off your socials.

Tips to Control Your FOMO

If you need to beat your FOMO, you can try these following practices:

  1. Admit that you have an anxiety or FOMO problem. You might not understand what you’re feeling, but knowing that it’s there is the first process of the healing. Acknowledging and understanding these feelings can help you pause, reflect, and make decisions to curb the problem.
  2. Be a little bit more discerning. The best thing you can do is to say, “No.” You need to be able to distinguish what is important from what is simply wanted because it looks hip. Rather than choosing an illusion of happiness, strive for what is real and deep, where you can experience fulfillment.
  3. Integrate mindfulness in your life. Mindfulness can be therapeutic because of its practice of having a nonjudgmental observation of a certain experience. For example—washing your hands. Take time to rinse the soap or smell its scent. Try to feel or sense the muscles as you wash and take every nook and corner of your hands. Mindfulness can curb FOMO by having people enjoy what they’re doing or have now than craving for that unreal moment.
  4. Welcome gratitude in your life. Instead of complaining about what you don’t have, create a sense of gratitude for what you have and where you are right now.
  5. Turn off your social media. As mentioned above, if you want a complete detox from the toxicity of your social media, you can limit your use or deactivate from it. There’s no shame from being away with it for a while.

Relax, relish and value what you do have instead of bad and missed out on what others do. You’re in control of your happiness. Not them.

© 2018 Glory Moralidad

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