Why Is FOMO Really a Concern and What to Do About It?

You probably roll your eyes at this moment when you hear the term FOMO (fear of missing something), but bear with me, because it turns out that FOMO is not a fear of missing information. It is about feeling anxious that you are missing out on an opportunity to connect with your social group. Here’s what to do about this worry.

When you browse your Facebook feed or Snapchat stories and see your friends having fun together, you’re probably a little worried about why you weren’t invited. NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast (9:28 pm) explains more:

In all of our experiments, we’ve found that it actually has more to do with anxiety that something might happen in the group experience that will shape the group story in the future, which you may not be a part of, and that will undermine your group affiliation.

For example, you go out with your family, and your friends at home decide to take advantage of the sunny weather and have a barbecue in the park (which is not uncommon). Seeing their photos can make you feel like you’re missing out on the opportunity to spend time together, even if you don’t regret going on a family reunion. Even if you are feeling uneasy at the moment, you have several options to get away from the FOMO mentality.

  • Plan to spend time with your friends . If you are worried about a connection that you are not for, make other plans with friends to spend this time together. You might even think about small group plans or one-on-one plans to create a sense of intimacy.
  • Focus on what makes you happy . Distracting attention to what others are doing (and what you are not doing) can ruin your experience. Focus on what you are doing that makes you happy.
  • Don’t worry about posting to social media in real time . The easiest way to skip FOMO triggered by social media is to not go to social media. Of course, this is easier said than done, and we all have photos and videos that we want to share with our circles. Try downloading them after the event is over so you don’t get sucked into the news feed spiral when you see what everyone else is doing when you should be happy with what you are doing.

Social anxiety and stress isn’t something that goes away completely, no matter how confident or safe you are, but there are steps you can take to calm yourself down and focus again on what really matters.

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