In an age when we’re continually updated by a range of news and social media about world events and the minutiae of other people’s lives and achievements, the barrage of important and less important information is relentless. For some, it creates overwhelm; for others it causes a newly coined condition called ‘FOMO’, i.e. fear of missing out.
It’s no clinical term but recent studies show that the feeling is commonly, and quite strongly, experienced by teenagers and 18-30 year olds who have grown up with the constant presence of social media in their daily lives.
Use of these platforms has increased rapidly over the last few years, offering new and innovative ways to connect globally. Paradoxically, it can also be isolating and introduce issues of competition and comparison to so easily see just the curated version of others’ lives. Before you say “first world problem”, doctors are linking it to new kinds of depression, anxiety and self-esteem concerns. It’s also endemic in certain careers, especially in technology, sales, media, sports and shift work.
Are you suffering from FOMO?
The professionals’ tips:
- Opt out if you’re uncomfortable with anything you see, follow or subscribe to – there are countless alternate groups and sites on Pinterest and Tumblr to help you focus on brain food over fodder.
- Ask yourself – “do I really care about this… exotic holiday/new job/clever hobby/tickets to the Logies that my “friend” has and I don’t?” If no, see above. If yes, see below.
- Is how you feel suggesting you want to change something? Maybe you should follow the hunch.
- Consider whether it’s a viable reality for you. If you cannot actually retrain to be an astronaut, relocate to Paris, rewind to 30, or rebuild your dinghy into a yacht, then refocus on your own genuine choices.
- If the person with FOMO is not you but a loved one under 18, take it seriously and offer to help them speak to someone about their feelings.
- Dismissing any young person’s fears is unhelpful and unwise.
- Log off and instead read these excellent sites: