During the more than 1.5 years of restricted activities, we were looking forward to finally reliving our old lives. However, there were some nice advantages of the pandemic for many people. Less time spent on travelling, more time to rest, and fewer things to do. This last point, I want to discuss with you. As we were sitting home lots of the time, we finally could read that one book and take it easy with (social) activities. Do not get me wrong, I am really happy that I can finally go to campus, see all my friends and family, and do fun things. But there were some good things about staying at home as well. One of the largest advantages was the lack of FOMO.
FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out, a well-known word among millennials and other younger generations that are in the middle of their active life. But what does it exactly mean? Is it bad or not? And how can we overcome it? To answer these questions, I used two papers by Dorit Alt (see references below) about FOMO regarding social media use.
FOMO is the urge of people to participate in social activities where they otherwise miss some rewarding experience that others have. These days, this effect is increased by the use of social media. As our generation mainly keeps in contact with our friends and family via social media, we constantly see what others are doing. This means that we also see what we are missing (Alt, 2015). Therefore, we are more likely to participate in social activities we do not necessarily want to go to. For example, you go to a party where you actually do not want to go, because you are afraid that you miss that special moment which will be an important experience in your group of friends.
FOMO and the extent to which someone uses social media are related. These two both depend on basic psychological needs. When someone is not satisfied with his/her efficacy, autonomy, and connectedness to others, he/she will be more likely to use social media much and suffer from FOMO (Alt, 2016). FOMO in itself is not dangerous for you, but it is a consequence of how satisfied you are with yourself and your life.
If you suffer from FOMO a lot, and have a hard time dealing with it, then talking to your friends or seeking professional help is also a possibility. However, I do have some small tips that might help you on your way:
- Try to check your social media a little less, by setting a timer on your phone for these apps for example. In this way, the feeling that you are not part of some activity or group will decrease and in the end, your feeling of connectedness to others improves.
- Another tip to improve the feeling of connectedness to others is to meet more often with individual friends instead of big groups. In this way, you have a more personal connection with some of your friends.
- Find an individual hobby in which you learn something. For example, playing the piano, drawing, or running. In this way, you learn something new you like, and you can always choose for yourself what your next project will be. This improves the feeling of efficacy and autonomy.
Hopefully, these are some useful guidelines for you to overcome a bit of your Fear of Missing Out. Try to go to a party or another social activity because you like it, not because your FOMO says so!
Alt, D. (2015). College students’ academic motivation, media engagement and fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 111–119. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.CHB.2015.02.057
Alt, D. (2016). Students’ Wellbeing, Fear of Missing out, and Social Media Engagement for Leisure in Higher Education Learning Environments. Current Psychology 2016 37:1, 37(1), 128–138. https://doi.org/10.1007/S12144-016-9496-1