FOMO (fear of missing out) wasn’t a thing in the previous century. I am a 90s kid. Back then, we were allowed to get bored. That is what was different about my generation. Boredom was a rite of passage through childhood. We made up interesting games to drive away monotony.
In post-modern quick fix times FOMO has become a buzzword. Post pandemic especially, people are tripping over themselves for invites to events they missed in lockdown.
We pursue shiny object after another, each as short lived as a firefly’s life to run a sprint against boredom.
When worth is measured by the quantity of social engagements it’s easy to fear missing out.
Tell me the truth? Does FOMO make you feel you aren’t connected enough, cool enough or “in the know”? Or like your social circle isn’t big enough & you are not liked enough.
FOMO is a time & happiness killer. It may mean you prioritise the wrong things. It gets you mindf*&ked from social media spying & shortens your attention spans. You may even burnout from extreme FOMO.
But FOMO could indicate deeper issues. Maybe you want to pause & think about your FOMO. What is this fear deep rooted in?
Your FOMO could be driven by high anxiety.
How do you confirm that it is? By becoming aware of your internal dialogues when you are scared of missing out.
Anxious people whose condition shows up as FOMO think thoughts that begin with “what if”:
They don’t invite me?
They get close to each other & exclude me from the clique?
Others talk about me when I’m absent?
This is the event of the year & I miss it?
They have too much fun without me?
Anxiety forces them to attend social gatherings they’d rather not, to people please/ belong to a clique.
If these are momentary thoughts/ actions, relax. We all suffer from the human condition of wanting to belong. But if these thoughts consume you & stop you from functioning in the here & now you may have a problem pal.
Life can be tough for those who suffer from the belief that they are lonely/ rejected.
I’ve always been part of a small family unit. As I grew up, I felt more disconnected with my parents, as many of us do. Friends became my lifeline. Along came 2020 when I lost friendships once dear to me. I know what loneliness feels like. Ever since, I’ve been trying to be a part of various cliques, just to belong again.
Its not always feelings of loneliness / rejection that drive FOMO, but these could be warning signs. If we believe:
We have no real friends.
Others want to be close to us only for advantage.
No one genuinely cares about us.
We are always left out of cliques
And if we let these beliefs consume us, it is dangerous.
Belief is a powerful thing. If we let our thoughts linger on the beliefs that let us down, FOMO is an effect. You compromise your tastes to spend time with those you share no real connect with. That’s a waste of the limited time you have.
Not familiar with who you see in the mirror? You just gave FOMO a louder voice.
Most of us spend our lives in knowing others & accommodating to them. This works well for the first three decades. Then the pain of not knowing who we are starts to show up.
Extreme disconnect with self leads to FOMO. When we don’t know what drives us we fall in line with anything. We do things that don’t define who we are. We say YES in fear of missing out when we should be saying NO.
Low self-esteem means FOMO.
With low self-esteem we don’t value ourselves. This lack of respect for our personal time & space makes us want the next feel-good fix. If that fix doesn’t show up, we experience maddening FOMO.
Those suffering from extreme FOMO can become depressed if they don’t work on the underlying causes. Extreme FOMO is about needing constant validation. It acts like a drug that supresses unmet needs. It can be exhausting.
The root causes of FOMO are sourced from missing the climb up the evolutionary ladder.
When we live in environment or behavior we are looking for validation & FOMO strikes. When we start to let our values define us, we know who we want to show up as & for what. FOMO slinks away, tail between legs.
How to deal with FOMO (please note if your condition is extreme you may still need professional help):
Self-compassion meditation. It helps us be more mindful & accept ourselves better.
Building our lives around activities that are therapeutic. These would typically be a sport, an art or working for social good. They help us focus on the important.
Being careful about what we believe in. What Tony Robbins once said sums up our tryst with FOMO- “stand guard at the gateway of your mind.”
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com