Many of us often find ourselves awake at 2am, striving constantly on scrolling up and down on Instagram or Facebook feed to inspect our acquaintance’s newly acquired mastery in cooking skills, or of another’s learning of exotic languages, or convenient online parties that we feel missing in our lives. We are inspired to do something that would be considered as productive—and it makes us anxious. We are conscious about self improvement all the time so if you feel like this, you have got “FoMO”.
Fear of Missing Out, or simply FoMO, according to Time Magazine is defined as ‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’.
According to Eric Barker, author of “Barking up the wrong tree”, FoMO originates from low self esteem, unhappiness and dissatisfaction from life. “Low levels of satisfaction of the fundamental needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness tend towards higher levels of fear of missing out as do those with lower levels of general mood and overall life satisfaction”. Often we feel inadequate as is and constantly think to become a better version of ourselves or acquire commodities with gives us satisfaction. One third of adults feel FoMO at some point of their lives.
What really drives one into FoMO is the extensive use of social media. One study in the Psychiatry Research journal expounds that the fear of missing out was linked to a greater smartphone and social media usage, irrespective of the age group. It furthered that both social media use and “problematic” smartphone usage was linked with a greater experience of FoMO”. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat inspire people that bloat in the whim to seek validation for their worldly possessions, create a delusion of living a perfect life.
Often so, people with less satisfaction are enchanted by illusion and begin to draw comparison which most likely result in deprivation of self-esteem or need for validation. You feel checking up social media again and again so you don’t feel left out. That feeling inspires the need to engage in social media and increasing that engagement. That engagement makes us feel lesser of ourselves and often sets a person to destructive, depressive and disturbing path.
Although FoMO has not spared people even social isolation, it is a feeling and like all feelings it can be suppressed. All you need to do is be ‘attentive, be grateful and connect with friends’. It is easier said than done but it is achievable. According to Paul Dolan, author of “Happiness by Design”, “Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention.
What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness”. People caught in the FoMO stop paying attention to their life and turn to virtual world to feel good. They stop paying attention to what they have and instead focus on what they don’t.
That lack of attention culminates into cycle of self-loathing which distracts one from things that matter, such as their uniqueness. So being grateful and content with your possessions while acknowledging the room for improvement makes one feel positive about them self. Facebook is not evil– its usage determines it.
So if it is used to stay connected with friends rather than focus on your inadequacy then it will become a source of happiness too. So focus on yourself and offer gratitude for what you have, don’t take friends and family for granted, and remember—it’s a pandemic, not a productivity contest.
by: Ahsan Anwar
Tags: Dismal & Pandemic