In a recent survey, 62% of 15-50-year-olds in South Africa live in “constant fear” that they are missing out on something more exciting than what they are doing. Should we be worried? How do we combat this?
FoMO (the Fear of Missing Out) is a recognised mental state which refers to the apprehension that one is not in-the-know or one is out of touch with some social events, experiences, and interactions. Although it exists as a mental state, it could also manifest itself into physical reactions, such as sweating, anxiety and depression. It is a social angst that’s become more prevalent through our heavier use of technology. People who struggle with FoMO might not actually know what they’re missing, but have deep anxiety that they could be missing out on something better once their friends/possibly people they don’t even know, share their pictures and experiences online. This could stem from not being part of a social event like a party even down to a simple conversation between people.
In the modern society, millennials take photos and post status updates about pretty much everything. Now, your jam on toast you had this morning isn’t going to make me too jealous (it does a bit), but your amazing sunny holiday and perfect relationship through numerous Instagram filters most definitely will. The constant pressure to keep up with other people’s seemingly amazing lives can take its toll.
There’s a lot of upcoming events I’m dying to see that I’ll be missing out on, so I’ve come up with a few things to help me overcome my jealousy, and maybe they can help you in similar situations too:
1. It’s not your thing – that’s ok!
There might be some events occurring around you that all your friends are going to, and you feel like you have to go, but it’s totally not your scene – and that’s fine! For me, a sunny girls holiday with 24/7 booze seems like it would be so much fun, I’d hate to miss out, but it’s also completely not my scene. I just think of it like I’d rather not be there, than be there and have an awful time and no fun stories to tell from it. Think of all the other things you could be doing instead! (Making cakes, going to gigs, watching Netflix etc…)
2. If you can’t afford it, don’t go
As a very poor student myself, I constantly find myself saying yes to going places that I can’t realistically afford, just because I don’t want to feel left out, or like I’ll miss something amazing that’ll happen – and for the rest of the year I’ll be the outcast that didn’t attend. False. That never happens. Even if you do turn down an invite for somewhere, and something does happen that you’d wish you’d been involved in, you will get over it! And believe me, having that extra £10 in your bank instead of a steaming hangover, a possible lack of dignity and a smelly kebab on your bedside table is the best feeling.
3. Turn it off and live for the moment!
Yes, I understand that the idea of turning your phone off in today’s world is unnerving and outrageous, but trust me on this one. Take a few hours away from constantly refreshing Instagram/Facebook/Twitter in the hopes of finding something ‘interesting’ that you’re possibly missing out on. It’s a great feeling taking yourself away from other people’s lives and having your own! Turn off your notifications for a couple of hours, immerse yourself in a hobby, or go outside and explore! You will have a much more rewarding experience.
4. It’s as edited as that #nomakeup selfie
This one applies to people we admire. Celebrities, people who are popular online, or even that girl down the road who seems to have the perfect life. They’re all real people, who live lives just like us. Their life might look perfect through a lens and several filters, but you don’t know how their personal life is. More often than not, they construct their social media presence to make themselves seem like their life is great and rewarding, but it’s selectively designed to make you jealous. The girl showing off her Mulberry handbag might look like she’s just had it handed to her, but she could have slaved away 7 days a week for a year to save up for it – but she won’t show you that. Just bear that in mind the next time you become swallowed up in someone’s Instagram (it’s happened to the best of us).
5. Don’t take life for granted
Take the opportunity of viewing other people’s lives to be thankful for what you actually have. Yes, you might not have all that someone else does, but you’re here, alive and well, and making your way through life in your own way. Taking a moment to appreciate all the little things in your life that make you happy and go from there.
6. Turn jealousy into curiosity
Instead of getting yourself into a depressive state being jealous of what someone else has, use it as a chance to improve your own life. If you see something that someone else is doing, ask them about it, take a leaf out of their books and try it for yourself. Draw inspiration from their escapades and how they live their lives, and channel it into your own. It’s a great way to help push your life in a new direction, and push the FoMO to one side. Even if someone’s life seems unattainable (the Kardashian’s, for example – wouldn’t we all love to be one!), as long as you’re aware of their unrealistic ways of living, you can make steps to adapt your life to make you feel happy, comfortable and included.
I’ve battled with FoMO a lot in life, but I’ve learnt to create some distance between myself and the constructed online lives of others. And hopefully with these tips, you can make steps in doing so too.