Fighting FOMO: 4 Questions That Will Crush the Fear of Missing Out

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 21, 2013 · 51 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development

FOMO Header 500

FOMO.

It’s an acronym of recent coinage which stands for the Fear of Missing Out.

The inherent cutesy-ness of acronyms has a tendency to make me roll my eyes. But in this case, I think it describes a very real malady — one that can sap your happiness if you’re not careful.

FOMO is the experience of worrying that other people are doing more interesting things than you, have more friends than you, and are just all around living a better and cooler life.

A form of FOMO has been around for centuries, but its prevalence and intensity has greatly accelerated in our modern age. If you were a peasant living in the 14th century, you might wonder what it was like to be lord of the manor, but there weren’t many other options and lifestyles with which to compare your own (“I wonder if John’s got a less severe case of the bubonic plague than I do…”). Today, you can compare your own life and choices against millions of others.

The prime source of FOMO is of course social media, which allows you to peruse the highlights of other people’s lives in real time: you’re spending a quiet night at home and then see pictures of your friends at a concert on Instagram; you’re stuck in traffic coming home from your 9-5 and see a tweet from a friend who’s motorcycling through South America. When your dad had a sucky day, he might wonder if his old friends were doing any better for themselves, but that thought quickly reached a dead end. All you need to do is fire up the Facebook feed.

FOMO-inducing media is hardly limited to the internet, though. Every time you turn on the TV you’re faced with reality shows featuring the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and alcohol and car commercials populated by packs of good-looking twenty-somethings who seemingly do nothing but move from beach bonfires to rooftop parties to majestic road trips.

The symptoms of an onset of FOMO include a pit in one’s stomach, sudden restlessness, and a general feeling of anxiety that surrounds one’s brain and localizes in the forehead area. Allowed to fester, it sucks us into living and judging other people’s lives instead of enjoying our own, and turns what could be motivation for taking life by the horns into paralyzing envy and depression.

Whenever you feel an attack of FOMO coming on, ward it off before it puts you in a funk by asking yourself the following 4 questions.

1. Is this something I really wished I was doing?

The funny thing about FOMO is that it doesn’t always arise from seeing someone do something that you wish you were doing yourself. For example, maybe kicking your feet up, whipping up a plate of nachos, and watching a football game is exactly how you want to spend your Saturday night after a super stressful and tiring week, but when you look at your phone and see a pic of your friends at a party, you start feeling anxious. You wouldn’t go out even if they called and invited you right now, yet you’re still feeling the FOMO. What gives?

It’s important to realize that FOMO is often spawned not from your desire to have made another person’s specific choice, but simply from the reminder that other people have made different choices from your own. Such a reminder not only creates an awareness of this one alternative choice, but in fact brings to your mind the entire plane of seemingly infinite choices before you. To see that another person is somewhere else on the map is to remember that choosing one path means missing another, and this triggers the essence of FOMO: insecurity in our own choices. With so many options out there — from little things like how to spend a Saturday night to big ones like what to do for a career – we are frequently beset with one nagging worry: Have I made the right decisions?

Thus, when you feel FOMO coming on, it’s essential to do a gut check and ask yourself if the trigger is really something you wish you were doing yourself, or if the sudden recollection of the great number of choices in life has simply brought on a moment of insecurity about your own. If it’s the latter, taking a moment to reaffirm your decision is all it takes to chase the FOMO away.

So for example, a friend posts a pic of their life in New York, and you find yourself feeling restless and thinking: “Oh man, what am I doing in this small town – I’m missing out on the experience of trying to make it in the Big Apple!” But then you think back to the fact that when you visited your friend in NYC, you felt sure you’d never like it there and couldn’t be happy so far from the mountains and nature that surround you back home. “No,” you think, “I don’t really want to be living in New York City. This is where I want to be.”

Of course, sometimes the answer to this question may be in the affirmative. Which is why you also need to ask yourself the next one.

2. Is this feeling telling me something that I need to change?

While FOMO may sometimes be caused by the field of life choices suddenly flashing into your consciousness, sometimes it does point to something deeper: that you aren’t happy with your current life and there is something out there you wish you were doing instead. Therefore, you should examine the source of your FOMO before dismissing it; there may be a good reason you feel insecure about your decisions.

Maybe you dream of being a film actor but you’re laboring in obscurity at the Pawhuska Playhouse, and you feel a pang of FOMO when you see that another actor friend is heading out to LA. Here, FOMO is the manifestation of your disappointment in yourself for not having the courage to do likewise. Or perhaps you feel some forehead FOMO when you see a friend’s engagement pic or a photo of a proud papa and his newborn. In such a case, FOMO may be telling you that you’re ready to move on to a new phase in your life where you date more intentionally.

Keep in mind that your FOMO trigger may not relate directly to something you wish you were doing yourself, but can instead point more broadly to something you want to change about your life. So for example, feeling FOMO after seeing a pic of your friend atop Machu Picchu might not mean you have a secret burning desire to go to Peru, but simply that you’re ready to move out of your parents’ house and have an adventure of any sort.

So how do you distinguish between FOMO that is simply the result of a reminder about the number of choices in life, and that which hits the nerve of a truly unfulfilled desire? Part of it is simply knowing yourself well enough to understand what actually makes you happy, and that just because something makes someone else happy, doesn’t mean it will do the same for you.

If you’re grappling with a big choice, it’s a matter of taking the time to thoughtfully go through the decision-making process. The result of that process will be something akin to FOMO immunity: when you find yourself wondering if maybe you’d be happier doing X, you can think back on that decision, remember the one that you made and either say, “Nope, that’s not something I want to do. I’m on the right path for me,” or “Yeah, I need to be doing something similar. Time to get back on track with that goal.”

3. Is this something that is viable for me right now?

Sometimes the source of our FOMO is indeed something we wish we were doing, but, it’s not the right time or the best time for us to be doing that thing.

Something that we’ve mentioned before on the site, and that I think is incredibly important, is embracing the idea of different seasons in your life. Between when we got married and when we had Gus, Kate and I had five child-free years. This was a season of relative freedom, and we got to travel and camp a whole lot. Now we’re in a season with two young kids and our travel and camping trips have become a lot more limited and scarce. Sometimes when Jeremy tells us he’s taking a road trip to Yosemite, or the guys at Huckberry tell us they’re heading out for a trip into the Sierra Nevadas, I’ll definitely get hit with a wave of FOMO. But then I think, “Okay, they’re in a different season from me. We had that season already, and now I’ve passed into another one.” Granted, some adventurous folks are totally cool with camping with toddlers and even babies, and think traipsing around Paris with tots in tow sounds like a good time. But it doesn’t appeal to me personally. So for now, I’m making the most of my current season, hanging out with my kids as much as possible during this precious and fleeting time in their development, and learning to enjoy the small and simple things right at home. Once they quit pooping in their pants, I look forward to starting a new season where we travel and camp as a family.

Even if you love skiing, there’s no sense in pining for it in the middle of July, and you’re better off concentrating on what you can only do during the season you’re currently in (swimming! wake boarding!). In the same way, even if there’s something from a previous season in your life that you once enjoyed but doesn’t fit into it right now, instead of spending your time worried about what you’re missing out on, make the most of the uniqueness of your current season.

4. Is this an accurate representation of reality?

I think everyone intrinsically knows that what they see on TV and social media isn’t an accurate representation of the reality of the lives of other people. But it’s something you definitely need to remind yourself of regularly.

Everyone’s online personas are carefully curated representations of how they want others to see them and how they wish to see themselves. A few folks do operate by a let-it-all-hang-out philosophy and share anything and everything on Facebook, which results in a transparency inappropriate for the platform (and getting blocked from their friends’ feeds). But most people only post positive things from their lives: the most flattering pictures of themselves, views from their vacation, their cherubic-looking children, gushing platitudes about their spouse. What they’re not posting is, “A subordinate was promoted over me today at work.” “Just found out my girlfriend’s been cheating on me for six months.” “Our house is being foreclosed on.” “Got a call from Junior’s teacher saying he’s being disruptive in class.”

And it’s not just the negative stuff that gets edited out – all the neutral, mundane tasks of life don’t make the cut either. Your friend posts a pic of he and his gal watching an amazing sunset…not pictured are shots of him sitting in traffic, going to the dentist, folding clothes, and waiting in line at the grocery store.

In short, what you see online is a groomed and sanitized image of someone else’s life – the tip of an iceberg in which most of its mass lies hidden below the surface of the water. Naturally, measuring the entirety of your life against this cherry-picked peek of another’s is a recipe for feeling inadequate. Steven Furtick said it best: “Never compare your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Bonus Question: Are you using technology wisely?

Studies have shown that using Facebook reduces young adults’ sense of well-being and satisfaction with life. But is such a finding the result of correlation or causation – that is, does using Facebook make you feel less happy, or do unhappy people spend more time using Facebook? Probably a little of both.

But I’m not keen on placing more blame on the medium than the way that medium is used. Facebook and other social media outlets are merely tools – ones that can add or detract from your life depending on whether or not you deploy them wisely.

If you feel like Facebook is making you unhappy or annoyed (or is, understandably, simply pointless), by all means get rid of it entirely. I shut down my personal page in the spring, and don’t miss it at all. I’m not an absolutist on the issue, however. AoM has a FB page as it helps lots of folks keep up with the site, and Facebook can indeed be a useful tool for networking, keeping in touch with others, and creating offline events. The negative effects of Facebook use are not inevitable, and can largely be avoided by using the platform prudently:

  • Set a certain time limit for using it each day. For example, only allow yourself 10 minutes each night to quickly scroll through and respond to people’s updates.
  • Filter who you see in your news feed to those you actually care about and keep in touch with through other mediums. This has several advantages: 1) you can spend less time looking through the new updates in your feed, 2) you’re less likely to be annoyed by updates from folks you don’t actually care about, and 3) while these people will probably only post positive things like everyone else, because you know what else is happening in their life as well, you’re less likely to feel FOMO, as you can balance these highlights with remembering the tough stuff they’re dealing with too.
  • Don’t be friends with your ex-girlfriends on Facebook. With time, you forget the bad stuff about her that caused you to break up in the first place, a process accelerated by her only posting flattering updates and pictures. Soon you’ll be wondering if you should get back together and feeling jealous when she starts seeing other guys.
  • Don’t engage in a FOMO arms race. When other people’s updates are putting you in a funk, it’s tempting to “retaliate” by trying to post things from your own life that you think will induce FOMO in them. But engaging in such a practice only magnifies your own feelings of insecurity, deepens your propensity for making comparisons, and perpetuates the cycle. Even if you aren’t feeling FOMO, be aware of what you’re posting, and that it may contribute to other people’s FOMO. Are you trying to build yourself up in the eyes of your “friends”? Or are you legitimately trying to share life’s moments with those you care about? Examining your motivations is oft ignored in the realm of social media.

If you follow these suggestions for judicious Facebook use, your FOMO should be greatly reduced. And if you do start feeling the funk, you can quickly crush it by asking yourself the questions outlined above.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Clayton October 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I have drastically changed my social media habits due to FOMO.

My wife regularly take one-week fasts from social media and find we are happier, more apt to connect with people (taking phone calls, hanging out, texting back), and have a lot more time on our hands.

I’ve stopped social media use mostly, and just let my wife keep me somewhat connected to all our acquantances from high school/college. I think as a man it can be easier to not use social media, as long as you are not caught up in an arms race of showing off your exciting life or successes.

2 phreebie October 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I don’t suffer too badly from FOMO. Maybe it’s because I’m a MOFO?

Also, try posting up an instagram pic of your couch, remote & nachos with a comment about how you deserve this, after a wicked week of keeping the economy pumping. Those dudes on their motorcycle in South America with the bad case of dyssentry might just be envious when they finally get somwhere with coverage. ;)

3 Evan October 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Wow. What a great reminder to disconnect once and a while! That’s the downside of seeing perfection, it makes you feel so imperfect. It’s important for us to remember to look to our own lives and see what we can do to improve ourselves. Want a vacation? Well stop dreaming about it and get to work! Thanks for the reminder! -Evan

4 Erik October 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm

A good way to help with this is to trim your news feed on facebook. Ignore people that are detracting from your online experience.

There are far fewer people that make it into my news feed now, but on the upside I’m less annoyed.

5 Danny Byrne October 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I have never read anything that resonates with me like this article.
It was akin to an image slowly focusing, becoming sharper and sharper until, when the subject finally appears in its entirety, you stop; your eyes widen and a soft “holy shit” escapes from your lips.

I believe that recognition of an issue or problem (or acceptance) is the first step to recovery. And until this, I could never articulate, never quite put my finger on just ‘why’ I would find myself struggling with seemingly random bursts of anger, frustration, and sometimes downright depression.

Thank you. This has been… quite the lesson of the evening.

6 Cory October 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm

As always great post. Very timely personally as well. Keep up the good work.

7 Burn October 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I’ve used social media sparingly in the past, not one keeping my interest for more than a few months. You’re informed by an aquaintance of a new for of social media, you join to see what it’s all about, and after a short amount of time you realize the FOMO is overwhelming.
Some serve a purpose, I really enjoyed the fact that Instagram assisted many small business types in getting their name out there and promoting their product. In what seemed like a flash, I followed an individual who practiced leather craft as a hobby, who was able to quit his 9-5 and do what he loved. However the waves of negativity far outweigh the positives for me.
As I try to simplify my life, I realize I’m not the type of individual meant for social media. My life is not nearly exciting enough to participate.

8 Brian October 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm

When it comes to facebook, social media and the TV shows, think of it this way: you’re seeing their highlight reel, their montage, the movie trailer of their life but NEVER the behind-the-scenes activity and grunt-work that make that possible.

9 josh_k October 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for this. Important reminder on how thoughts of restlessness and inadequacy can creep in, even when we know better. Also a good reminder about how my own Facebook posts might affect others. In other words, am I being honest myself?

On that note, I guess I’ll hit share…

10 Tom Macko October 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Interesting timing seeing as I just rid myself of Facebook about three weeks ago for pretty much this exact reason. It just became this huge social bubble of people I don’t even give a crap about. I still use other social media but for some reason Facebook is the one that you can lose a whole day on once in a while. All that time I spent scrolling through the endless sea of updates I’m using to invest into a new hobby – one that requires you to actually go outside and enjoy the fresh air.

11 Daniel Cespedes October 22, 2013 at 12:12 am

Nail on the head. I left Facebook a month or two ago and really haven’t looked back. As much as that’s improved my well-being, this helps even more. Cheers, Brett. Well done.

12 Michael October 22, 2013 at 2:16 am

The WORST thing are sound notifications on the smartphones.

I’m an IT guy, using computers both for work and leisure, i thought it will be nothing new to get a smartphone.

How wrong I was.
Sound notifications works like DOG TRAINING. The phone whistles, and you feel URGE to check it out. And it can whistle every 2 minutes…

Horrible experience. Turn sound notifications off, and problem is solved – news checking is under-control again.

13 daniel October 22, 2013 at 4:02 am

Awesome post & it is so true, just what I needed to hear. Thank you

14 Markus October 22, 2013 at 4:44 am

Clever analysis of how we today entangle ourselves in futile dreams and useless wishes! Corresponds very well to the wise advice given by manly apostle Paul to younger Timothy (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

15 Hayley Smith October 22, 2013 at 5:00 am

While you highlight some very pertinent points about the onset of FOMO and the subsequent ways in which we can deal with it, I feel there is a side that you are missing out.

The focus is on the “what” and the fear of missing out on the doing of a certain activity, but there is another element to FOMO. How about the fear of missing out on the possible changes that happen in people during an event? People who experience things together change and grow together and if you are not a part of those events it can feel scary because you don’t want to get left behind.

I myself have had big problems with this fear throughout my late teens and then at university because I lived at home and so didn’t go to many parties or ‘after-school’ activities. I felt really left out but not because I didn’t party. The day after the party people would come back to uni “changed” somehow – more closely bonded together as if some significant event had happened, and that only those who were there were a part of this change. Because of this I found it hard to feel close to my friends, and I didn’t believe I was truly a part of their circle because I missed out on the important bonding and changing experiences that happened outside of the classroom.

I think this is a more crippling aspect of FOMO – fear of missing out on sharing an experience, not just having the experience itself. Relationships and connections with other people form the basis of our lives, not just the activities we do.

16 nick October 22, 2013 at 5:40 am

Great Article !

17 AdventureRuss October 22, 2013 at 6:07 am

I use Facebook fairly regularly, but only to get updates for groups I am part of in the physical world and to arrange activities. I never read the news feed or look at peoples statuses as I have no interest in them.

I did take a long break from social media a few years ago when it became more trouble than it was worth (I didn’t use it for anything useful and it kept getting me tons of spam). I deleted my active accounts and completely disconnected.

I later found it useful to make a new account to access information about local groups of like minded people. I think I have found a healthy balance now.

18 Stuart DeLeon October 22, 2013 at 6:30 am

I hardly go on facebook, and im probably to young to make life decisions(I’m 16and a senior I. Highschool) but I see people on instagram and I hope someday I can do all of that. I do get fomo from bad decisions in the past. Great website thanks for making me a better man.

19 vpostman October 22, 2013 at 7:10 am

My only source of FOMO…ONLY one…is the autobiography of Ben Franklin..and that is a worthy source.

20 Varun October 22, 2013 at 7:49 am

Great stuff!!!! And it couldn’t have come at a better time…

Guess FOMO stems from our perception of other people’s (supposedly awesome) lives and I know I could really do with a phase-shift in perception.

21 Daublin October 22, 2013 at 8:17 am

FOMO is an interesting problem for sure. I would suggest an additional remedy among those listed: think about what you currently have. You should spend at least as much time building up your current life as you do thinking about how you might make a radical change to something different. Save the radical changes for when things are crumbling and you may as well take a chance.

For Facebook in particular, I have *tried* to get into it but have not managed to do so. I think if you read a little bit–Benjamin Franklin was mentioned by vpostman!–then the stuff you see on Facebook starts to seem boring at best and disgusting all too often.

I like my friends better when I don’t know the inane stuff they are posting to try and impress each other. They post about how awesomly drunk they are, or about what a good feminist they are, or about what a good gay person they are, or about how cool they are for talking bad about their parents’ religion.

22 Claude October 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

I deactivated my FB page months ago and I was kind of panicky for a few days. Strong FOMO. But I got over it and I have less stress now. No urge to get online every spare moment to “catch up”.

And I agree with Michael’s post about notifications. They need to be turned off for the same reason.

23 Kevin October 22, 2013 at 9:17 am

Excellent post. Really made me think about the impact of FOMO in my own life.

Thank you for the insight.

24 Claude October 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

Another FOMO extreme – checking texts while in a job interview. I have friends in HR and I’m amazed at how often they experience this.

25 Blair October 22, 2013 at 9:37 am

Fortunately, my work blocks Facebook so I spend a lot less time on it. Because of that, I trimmed down my news feed to focus on the friends who I look forward to reading about. Speaking of which, Lifehacker had a post today about how to trim your news feed.

26 Kenny October 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

I finally have a name and reassurance that I am not the only one that gets this feeling. Great post and great advice.

Much thanks Brett and Kate.

27 Kevin October 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

I’m 25 and cut facebook out of my life entirely. One of the reasons was that its too tempting to compare yourself to the misleading one-liners and pictures of what other people’s life is like. A status “I got a promotion, life is awesome” from an acquantaince is not tempered by the truth, which is that a blend of hard work, sacrifice, and good fortune went into that. A friend who posts constant pictures of fun times at bars doesn’t post the pictures of being hung over during the following day. (etc etc)
2 Corinthians 10:12

Don’t compare yourself to others

28 Jack Grabon October 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

Wow, what a great, thoughtful post on this subject! Nice to know that it has a name too ;-)

I totally agree that we tend to see only the highlights of others’ lives and compare them to our own. It’s really like comparing a life to a snapshot that can be interpreted in so many ways. What we’re missing is their inner state. Like advertising, it has been manipulated to look its best and sound its best.

I think its wise to look at others’ updates like we would at a product in a store – with healthy skepticism, not buying the thing in the shiniest package. And as you outline, asking ourselves the right questions.

29 Todd October 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

This is a great message. It reminds me of a book Im listening to now called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff.

One practical tip he discusses are working with the biological rhythms of the body for maximum effect in a world of now. That is, there are certain times of the month that are better for doing mental work earlier in the day rather than later and vise versa.

Also, social media isn’t quite real-time. It’s actually just after real-time and could be part of the reason for the anxiety that creates FOMO.

Good one though! More stuff on this topic would be great.

30 JD October 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm

This was incredibly insightful, thanks for the excellent article. As a college student I can definitely see this in my life and the lives of basically everyone around me, but I have never been able to put a finger on what it was. I’ll be changing the way I look at my life and the way I use facebook and instagram now.

31 FeatherBlade October 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I dropped Facebook entirely the other week. I decided that ignorance of other peoples objectionable moral and political crusades would do wonders for my peace of mind.

Since I was mostly using it as a public journal, there’s no real loss, especially as I started keeping an actual physical journal.

32 fishandgreens October 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

People need to be happy with the present. I believe people who practice Zen have it right. The present is the only time you really have. I want a watch that just says “NOW” as a reminder to enjoy every moment. We should have FOMO on our own time. Very good Article.

33 Tarren October 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for the great article. I love stuff like this. This made me realize how much FOMO affects me. Definitely going to cut back on Facebook.

34 Andrew from Toronto October 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I’m doing an experiment right now with my Facebook use. I discovered that if you used the site for an hour everyday for a year, you’d spend about 15 full days on the site. Two weeks on Facebook! Some of us spend even more time that.
But what if you could get it to a more economical number, like 10 hours/year ? I figured out I could do that if I went on for about 20 minutes every two weeks for a year. To make sure you don’t break that, I learned through the “Low Information Diet” on Mr. Money Mustache to change your password to a long 12-digit number you’ll have to look up. Three weeks in so far, no FOMO.

35 Michael October 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

FOMO (Fear of missing out) is something I defiantly suffered from. Whether it is the ‘grass is always greener’, seeing young peopling drinking in the sun has traditionally triggered my insecurities of not being apart of some ‘cool crowd’. This of course was magnified as mentioned in the article with social media and although I’m older now, those unmistakable feels of FOMO are there. Amusingly, I have a good group of mates in which I regularly enjoy sun with and I have spent more time travelling then anyone else I know. On an even scale I would be closer to the “better off” people who highlight their lives in sun baked beach photos, but still I window shop on Facebook and Instagram giving me a FOMO sensation. The idea of limiting yourself on social media sounds like an excellent habit to form, the thought of deleting it is not a likely out come (I am studying a Masters in Internet Communication). Beautiful point made about representations of reality. Now days your online and offline presence are blurred. Employers will scope out your social media to form a prospective employee profile. Ironic how that now we all know this we may remove those drunken sun bleached photos and upload ones of us sitting at our computer.

36 Michael Fenbury October 23, 2013 at 6:38 am

Great!

37 Greg October 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I have found that by making a couple of changes to facebook I have cut the amount of time I spend perusing the site immensely.

1) De-friend. Go through your list and de-friend anyone and everyone that you haven’t spoken to in a set time frame (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc…) whatever you decide is the appropriate cut off. This will drastically reduce the amount of information you have to sift through to find the people you are genuinely interested in keeping up with.

2) Remove the app from you mobile devices. I have found that by just deleting the app off my phone i have cut the time I’m on facebook significantly. Prior to this change I would pull my phone out and click on the icon just because it was there, and I was in need of some time to waste.

With these changes I have checked facebook a grand total of three times in seven days.

38 Charles Stewart October 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm

If you appreciate what it means to be in “different season” of life as mentioned above then you can use that to avoid the fear of regrets. For example, my wife and I just found out she is pregnant . While we have been talking about taking a nice vacation for sometime we’ve kept delaying it. Now that she is pregnant, an event that is going to be life changing for both of us, it made me realize we should capitalize on the freedom we have now to do a nice vacation before the baby comes (i.e. before the seasons changes). This way we can minimize regrets in the future about what wish we would have done.

39 Nick October 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Here is a challenge for anyone who finds themselves constantly involved in the media. Try a media absention experiment. That’s what I did for a whole week for my pop culture sociology course. That means no contact with media whatsoever, no texting, no TV, no recorded music, no internet, etc. Nothing but your mind trying to reorient itself to the world. That’ll really test the “fear” of missing out. It’s a tedious test of willpower with surprising benefits in terms of being productive.

-Nick

40 Rose October 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Reflecting upon this article, I realize that something akin to FOMO prevented me from ever opening a FB page. Essentially, I was in a dark period of life, when things were absolutely not sunny. My phone number has been the same for 13 years. The people who cared knew what was going on, because they bothered to call! I didn’t have cool pictures to post or fun events to share. Recently, the sun has been shining, and I’ve been thinking of opening a FB page. Ha! That fits the model, doesn’t it? Reading all your comments, and reviewing my motivation for opening a page, I think I’ll just keep the no-FB policy.

I would like to say, I’ve recently discovered AoM, and though I’m a female in my 30s – I am HOOKED. The articles are supreme, and reading the comments is actually enjoyable (vs infuriating as with some sites). The comments let me see a population of like-minded individuals, who are focused on what MATTERS in this life – family, friends, community, etc. A visit to this site can be thought-provoking, encouraging, uplifting, and well, supremely entertaining. Well done, AoM!

41 Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken October 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Thanks a lot for this insightful article. At last I’ve found a name for what comes over me far too often.
I must admit that not being registered on facebook, such as I am does not completely prevent attacks of FOMO, but I can see how it helps.
Greetings from across the Atlantic to the most noble authors and to all readers.

42 Me October 24, 2013 at 4:26 am

I’ve never had a Facebook profile.
Nor do I browse other people’s profiles.

I think because of the reasons outlined, plus I know I have a tendency towards that personality type which would mean comparing myself negatively against my connections on Facebook.

I think the point about asking yourself “wait, is that thing REALLY what I want to be doing RIGHT NOW and would I do it, if someone phoned me RIGHT NOW to come along RIGHT NOW?” Many times, the answer would probably be no.

Being NOT-on Facebook is definitely not as ‘scary’ as you would think though. I am pretty old fashioned in that way and always prefer to speak to people face to face/phone, or at least if not in person, a private email or text message!

Anyone I don’t feel the need to catch up with in person, is surely not much of a friend anyway, so my advice would be to not bother ‘friending’ them in the first place.

Here’s an interesting related story, which I haven’t quite understood yet.

An old friend from university texted me on the off-chance I was still on the same phone number several years on (I am) to see how I was and what I was up to.

I told her it was nice to hear from her, gave a quick update on life since, and also suggested that as we are both in the same area, we could meet for a lunch one day to catch up when she is free?

The response I still find strange, it was basically something like:

“Don’t really have time, but post some pictures on Facebook so I can see what you look like now! xx”.

Don’t get me wrong, it made me laugh, I wasn’t upset in anyway, but I really don’t understand why you would bother to a) get in touch with a former friend years later b) ask them to post facebook photos when you could easily meet them in person!

Are we that far down the line now that certain people are preferring Facebook communication and “status” updates to real life, face to face communication where you can actually really understand someone’s personality, life changes etc, rather than some edited pictures!!

43 Billy October 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

Thanks a lot for this article. You hit the nail on the head. I just recently deleted my Facebook for all the reasons listed here. I don’t think it is necessary for everyone, but as someone who has moved away from home and is starting a new career, I found myself spending too much time on Facebook FOMO-ing. Best feeling ever though just to get off the grid!

44 Jerold October 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

This site always has really interesting topics

45 Jake Long October 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

FOMO has definitely affected me in my life. Of course, it varies in degrees with different times of our lives. I think that as I get older, I’m able to reduce the negative affects of it. There are still definitely many challenges to face. One recent one for me is that of choosing to spend more time doing things that I like that will further my career rather than just hanging out with friends. I’m not going to stop hanging out with friends, but I sometimes I have other places that I can be that may sound appealing to me, and not to my closest friends. This may end up causing me to miss something else, but in the end, I decide which is more important.

46 YL October 27, 2013 at 1:49 am

There is no reason to blame Facebook for our inadequacy to control our usage of it.

47 Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken October 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Dear YL,

the point of this article is not to blame facebook, but to point out maladies, that may be caused, but not only, by an inadequate use of social networks.
I myself have never been registered on facebook and still suffer the same symptoms quite often.
You may be immune against that, which is good for you and which you ought to feel grateful about, as it means you are probably luckier than most.

48 Mitja November 1, 2013 at 4:19 am

Been following your website for quite some time and I must say reading all of your stuff leads to more awareness, thus leads to better decisions. Thank you for the ideas, inspiration and keep up the good work.

49 Rick November 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This article was so enlightening. Normally I don’t leave comments. But, FOMO has been something that I have suffered with since moving back home from college. I look on social networks and see all my friends have an “amazing” time. I’m struggling to find work and get into grad school. But I understand now that I should be enjoying this time with my parents and sharping my skills during my off-time. Very informative article. Thanks!

50 Christine November 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I have to wonder if this is applicable to the expectations to attend college now. College life very much so creates a FOMO. With alternative education options, both equally credible and less financially damaging I wonder why so many kids are so avidly emptying out their wallets. I think for some it is very much a FOMO.

51 Andrew March 4, 2014 at 7:46 pm

This was an absolutely spectacular FOMO crushing article. As i was reading it, i started to realize how much of it is true in my life. thank you so much for putting this into perspective. it really made me feel better about everything.

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