Fear Of Missing Out

FOMO: More Than Just Missing Out

FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is an anxiety that most of us brush off as a minor life speed bump, but what if it is affecting us more than we think? FOMO, according to Urban Dictionary is, “compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.”

None of us can say that we haven’t experienced FOMO at some point in our lives, but now, especially being college students, the FOMO is real in everyday life. Social media is a definite factor when understanding the triggers of FOMO. Students are so engrossed in social media—checking it every spare moment they get—that it would be silly not to consider it a factor in feeling that awful left out sensation.

Anthony Papetti, a senior communication student, said, “FOMO always distracts me since I find myself on social media looking at what I miss. Occasionally, I can wrap my head around that fact that it’s better that I don’t go out, but for the most part I think FOMO is a big part of everyone’s lives and worries because it’s usually talked about non stop and then you can’t join in.”

While we may consider it purely a bad feeling that eventually goes away, for many students this feeling sticks around and actually causes health problems. Papetti stated, “FOMO is a deadly disease that 60 percent of people suffer from 100 percent of the time.” FOMO is a type of social anxiety that has some of the same effects other types of anxieties cause.

Katherine Rizman, a psychological counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services, said, “FOMO can be the direct and indirect causes of anxiety and other mental health (and health) concerns for college students in many situations.”

Rizman continued, “Many times college students may feel internally pressured to ‘go out,’ attend parties, and hang out with friends when not emotionally, psychologically or physically in the state to do so.” Engaging in events when you don’t really feel like going in fear of missing out isn’t healthy.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, FOMO first and foremost affects a student’s sleeping pattern. FOMO has a nagging quality that sticks in the back of your mind and produces negative thoughts. We’ve all had that night where our minds don’t stop racing, preventing us from getting a good night of sleep, or any sleep at all.

We also tend to lose focus and concentration when the effects of FOMO daunt us. Senior business student Kaitlyn Skudera said, “I know that if all my friends are doing something that I want to do, but I have school or work, I’m less concentrated on what I’m doing.” This could end up affecting our grades as well as our social lives.

Rizman said, “School work may be pushed aside [because of FOMO], ultimately leading to more anxiety about completing assignments or being prepared for exams.”

Another issue caused by FOMO, according to an article published by Science Daily, is that it causes large feelings of dissatisfaction. We live in a world where we always want more or want what someone else has. Social media’s hand in this is that it shows each and every one of us what we aren’t doing or what we can’t have. Because we all see this, we have FOMO for things we can’t have or obtain. This makes us feel dissatisfied with our current state in life and, therefore, causes us to think more negatively about our situations.

Rizman stated, “[Social media] often comes with the propensity to compare oneself to others as well as the fear that by choosing one thing, often something physically or mentally healthy, over another that we may be missing out on something that is perceived as better.”

By seeing things as “better,” on social media, we pressure ourselves to be like other people. When we can’t do the same activities we see others doing on social media, we get this dissatisfaction again.

Feelings of dissatisfaction further lead to even more serious issues such as depression. The Science Daily article suggests that FOMO is not the actual issue at hand, but it is a symptom of the larger issue of mental conditions such as social anxiety and depression.

It seems as though this “simple FOMO” that many of us brush off as a non-issue is a serious issue. Ways we can combat this issue is by re-framing, as the Science Daily article suggests, our states of mind. We have to combat negative thoughts. Keeping a journal, talking to someone, and laying off social media are all slight changes that can benefit one’s mental health in general.

Keeping a journal is a smart idea; by doing this, your mind is “cleared” of issues that have been nagging you all day. Instead of writing the negative things that happen each day, we can try to write the positives in our lives each day. Re-reading these positives will allow us to see that missing out on one event isn’t really a big deal when you have so much going right in your life.

Talking to someone is key in relieving anxieties. Whether this person is a counselor or just a friend or family member, talking about your issues is an important part of feeling better. While this won’t solve all of the problems that FOMO is causing, it can definitely help you cope with any anxiety.

Laying off of social media can work wonders in so many venues of life. Not only will this help in delaying your FOMO, but it will also aid in our tempers. Many of us see things on social media that make us mad, so a break here and there from social media will ease our tempers and delay our FOMO.

Overall, it seems that this “minor issue” we call FOMO can have a serious impact on our lives. This feeling will impact us all in the future, but the important thing to remember is that we all have so much to look forward to in the future. Don’t miss out on your life by worrying about what you’re not doing right now.

As Rizman recommended, “Live in the present. Stay offline. And be mindful in your actions.”

IMAGE COURTESY of Lauren Neisz