If you mindlessly scroll through social media and news all day long and are afraid of missing out on something important, this article is for you.
Do you surf Facebook and see that all your friends live better than you? Don’t even get us started on Instagram: every second person you follow there is either taking accelerated courses in programming and trading in the Maldives or striving to post a photo of their hand in an expensive watch. "How do they even find time for this?" you think, but continue to scroll through these posts with regret and envy. Sounds familiar? Congratulations! Perhaps you are the lucky winner of FOMO, the fear of missing out.
It is an unofficial but common mental disorder. However, it is not listed in the International Classification of Diseases. A syndrome called FOMO describes a situation when you constantly scroll through social media feeds, news, and blogs, fearing to miss something exciting and important.
How to find out if you have this syndrome? Mark a few points that you may experience.
- A frequent fear of missing something important.
- A desire to use all opportunities for communication (go to all parties, concerts, events, etc.)
- An obsessive desire to always be liked by others, to be praised, and available for communication.
- A constant need to update the feeds of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
- An intense feeling of not being comfortable when your smartphone is not around.
Yes, the FOMO syndrome is associated not only with information consumption. It also makes you go to events in person because you are afraid to miss something important, even if you don't really want to (although during the pandemic, it became more challenging to do this).
But the main thing that you experience is that you still feel the need to constantly check what is going on in the lives of others; you want to know whether something interesting is happening with them. And when you find out what is actually happening, you get upset, because it seems that others live a more active and interesting life than you. Hence envy, apathy, feelings of loneliness, and depressive thoughts.
One of the causes of the syndrome is that such a social feeling as envy exists, a pretty common feeling that makes people think: "I want it the same way, I want it better!" But in reality, everything is not that simple. And if the reason for such an emotion is not social but rather psychological, then it may signal that you have some unfulfilled needs.
This is the need for intimacy. It is vital to all of us, and when we achieve some success, post something on social networks, it helps us fulfill the need for intimacy. There is also a need to feel a sense of involvement and "belonging" within a social group, as well as a need for recognition.
Most of our unfulfilled needs come from childhood. And in the end, we are looking for "surrogates" to meet these needs. There is nothing wrong with that, but you need to find your balance in everything – from using social media to being able to travel.
So, you notice all the symptoms of FOMO in you. What should you do, then?
First of all, psychologists advise keeping in mind the idea that people tend to show the "best" version of themselves and their lives on social media. And if you see that your friends constantly talk about their achievements, expensive purchases, travel, or parties, it does not mean you are seeing the truth. For example, they could have made that purchase on credit or gone to that party because their friends have FOMO, too.
The second method is more difficult, but it is necessary. From time to time, you need to arrange a digital detox weekend and take a break to disconnect from the Internet. If you can't completely get rid of your phone and laptop for a while, at least turn off unnecessary notifications and try not to check social media. Of course, you will want to check everything, but try to overcome this feeling at least by going for a walk or playing sports.