Fear of Missing Out-Fomo-Demo

by El-marie van Heerden on April 10, 2017

Modern Life Makes the Fear of Missing Out Very Prevalent – Testing

Modern life equals instant and easy accessible contact with friends, acquaintances, family and foes. We literally now live in each others’ pockets. With the pressing of a button, information is freely available, let alone regularly updated!

Unless we have a very well defined sense of self as well as well defined and efficient interpersonal boundaries, we will get entangled with others.

Modern life is geared for immediate gratification. We have instant coffee, – entertainment, – meals, – dating websites, – surgery or injections to fix bodily ‘imperfections’ and above all: information on everybody’s comings and goings.

We might view someone’s profile and assume that it is only fun filled and exciting – because naturally, everyone wants the world to believe that he / she is making a success of living.

The information we read, is therefore one sided and out of perspective. It is a glimpse of moments in time, excluding the boring but necessary parts of living.

Thus, social media connects us, but shallowly so!

Triggers leading to feelings of missing out:

FOMO is triggered, not by what others do or experience, but by our view of it. We look at their lives through tinted glasses, believing that “they are OK, I am not OK”.

One can think: “Let me see what Tom and Jane are up to -I really enjoy being aware of their whereabouts”. This intention comes from a healthy sense of self. The problem is that when one looks at profiles with feelings of isolation and insecurity, we believe that Tom and Jane’s lives are OK – ours are NOT OK.

This is irrational and causes us self inflicted, unnecessary pain. The first two of “The Four Agreements” in Don Miguel Ruiz’ book, is most applicable here:

  • Do not make assumptions.
  • Never take anything personally.
  • Always do your best.
  • Be impeccable with your word.

Facebook and Instagram are to blame for our feelings of inadequacy or social anxiety!

How can we blame Facebook and Instagram for our feelings of inadequacy and social anxiety if we willingly choose to use it? I think the answer is that we project our own need of the validation of our existence onto others. We should be seeking SELF esteem – Facebook makes us seek OTHERS esteem. FOMO says “inferior versus superior, jealousy versus admiration”.

I believe that living in and through social media, became a substitute for intimacy.

Added to our ‘misery’, is our choice to “stalk” our ex-partners or friends through social media. We stay involved in their lives instead of letting it go in order to get closure. It really feeds our self pity!

We’ve forgotten how to enjoy a night in.

We have forgotten how to play. Way back, we had hobbies and outside interests to occupy us in times of “oneness”. We forgot that we can have creative and fun filled times on our own.

In order to be happy and emotionally healthy, we need to arrive at our own door, instead of constantly, and habitually, knocking at others’ doors. We need to know ourselves, to enjoy our own company, to live our own life and to let go of the huge emphasis we place on how others live their lives.

Certain personality types more susceptible to feelings of FOMO than others.

A person who rely too heavily on external approval, is prone to FOMO. It is almost as if a co-dependency exists between such a person and the social media. Co-dependency is a term that originated in the work with addicts. It has become a cultural phenomena – way beyond relationships with addicts. Co-dependency means that you have a lack of imagination for yourself, and you are too focused on others. The lack, or ‘vacuum’ from within, gets filled with knowledge about others’ lives. It alienates us from ourselves.

FOMO is harder to avoid during a time of year when we reflect on our lives and also a time when we are “expected” to be out socialising and having a good time.

FOMO has its deepest roots in fear of abandonment and fear of loneliness. Our need to want to belong, is heightened during Christmas and New Year.

Research proves that there is an increase in suicide and attempted suicide over festive seasons. The contrast between what is PERCEIVED as those who belong and those who are isolated and not part of a family or social group, is that much more prevalent during festive times.

FOMO is just another way of saying: “I need to matter”. The need to be connected, visible, significant and part of a group or family, is basic and part of every human being.

We can tackle these sorts of feelings instead of avoiding them altogether.

We can change ‘Fear of Missing Out’, to ‘Free to have Fun on my own’.

Keep the balance! Limit yourself to visiting social websites and if you read or see the perfect social cameo, realise that you do not have ALL the information about it. Be aware that people choose to put information out on social media in a very selective way, wanting you, the observer, to notice only the one side of who they are and what they do. It is rare that people will disclose how lonely, afraid or excluded they feel.

Take responsibility for:

  • leading and living your OWN life
  • your spiritual, emotional, physical and financial well-being
  • identifying and meeting your own needs
  • solving your own problems or learning to live with those you can not solve
  • what you give and receive in life
  • setting and achieving your own goals
  • enjoying your own life.

If you would like to talk, feel free to reach out to us. An LifeWorks therapist would be able to help.

Corina Saramet
Corina Saramet
Psychologist - English,Romanian,Spanish
Master Degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Bucharest, Romania
Nashwa Tantawy
Nashwa Tantawy
Psychologist - Arabic, English
M.A. in Counseling Psychology from The American University in Cairo
Jyotika Aggarwal
Jyotika Aggarwal
Clinical Psychologist - English
M.A.(Clinical Psychology), RE-CBT - Experience: 7 Years
Sailaja Menon
Sailaja Menon
Counseling Psychologist - English
CAGS (Multicultural Counseling), Johns Hopkins University, USA - Experience: 25 Years
Salma Mahmoud
Salma Mahmoud
Psychologist - Arabic and English
Master's in Psychology, BA Psychology - Experience: 12 Years
Iva Vukusic
Iva Vukusic
Clinical Psychologist - English, Croatian and German
Master of Psychology, Training of Trainers (ToT) Community
Dr.Marwa Abd El Hamid
Dr.Marwa Abd El Hamid
Clinical Psychologist - Arabic and English
Ph.D. in Psychology Ain-Shams University - Experience: 16 Years
Dr. Sravani Behara
Dr. Sravani Behara
Specialist Psychiatrist - English, Hindi and Telugu
MBBS, MD - Experience: 12 Years
Dr.Bassem Badr
Dr.Bassem Badr
Consultant Psychiatrist,Holistic Approach - Arabic and English
Master of Science in Neuropsychiatry - Experience: 25 Years

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