Pssst, hey, you there! Between you and me… Do you recognize the uncomfortable feeling you have when you are checking your social media and see your colleague, seemingly very happy, lying on the beach, somewhere on a tropical island? Thirty degrees and cloudless? Check! Idyllic beach? Check! Ice-cold beer? Check! Recognizable, right? No worries, you are not the only one. According to Jessica P. Abel (researcher in psychology), 70% of the adults occasionally ‘suffer’ from this uncomfortable feeling. Thanks to social media, we are continuously confronted with other people’s success and happy moments. OK, interesting, but what do we know about this unpleasant emotion and more important, how can we beat it?
The topic of today has been widely investigated by scholars and is called ‘’The fear of missing out’’, better known as FOMO. FOMO is prevalent in our digital age and is the uncomfortable and all-consuming feeling that you are missing out on something. Other studies refer to FOMO as the pervasive fear of individuals to miss out on rewarding social occurrences while being absent. It is the desire to stay continuously connected in order to prevent missing out on something. FOMO steers us, perhaps unknowingly, to be significantly more active on social media. Now, most probably you are wondering how bad it really is for you.
To get straight to the point, FOMO can be really harmful. Already in 2013, Elsevier reported that overuse of social media - probably caused by FOMO - causes serious mental problems. Overexposure to social media increases uncomfortable feelings such as insecurity, irritability, social anxiety, emotional stress, and even insomnia. Moreover, scholars agree that these feelings are not only demoralizing for us but simply unhealthy. In case you recognize these symptoms, like 70% of the adults do, I would recommend you to keep on reading. Exhale, you can do something about it ;). Below are three tips to reduce or even beat feelings of FOMO.
1. Avoid overuse of social media. This tip might sound like an open door, but can be the root of your problem. I do not recommend you to totally give up on your social media, social media is a nice and useful platform. Yet, consider using it a few times per day instead of every hour. It will help you to reduce feelings of FOMO and will save you a lot of precious time.
2. Be OK and grateful for what you have. According to John M. Grohol (researcher and expert in mental health), people exaggerate and romanticize in their social media posts. People want you to believe their social lives are more interesting and spectacular than they really are. So, drink a decent cup of coffee and try to focus on the things you have, instead of the things you do not have. It will feel good.
3. Life is simply not a fairy tale. Let’s be honest, you cannot always travel the world or achieve the highest in your social or professional life. It is simply impossible and exhausting, too. Now, say the following sentence with me: ‘’I cannot always explore the greatest places on earth or meet the highest challenges. And that is OK’’. Feels liberating, right? Admitting life is not a fairy tale releases pressure off your shoulders. All in all, there are nicer things in life than sun and beaches. And that is OK.