The other day I was at a friend’s house, just one of those lazy afternoons in the lockdown wherein we sulk at the virus and talk about how different things would’ve been at this time of the year if it weren’t for the pandemic. Scrolling through Instagram my friend shows me a post wherein a group of her friends, obviously in a city where the virus scare is near zero, plan a weekend getaway to a farmhouse in the countryside. What we saw was a long series of pictures with breathtaking views and had in it all the fun that probably all of us have been craving for these past 5 months! Right after that, my friend starts by blaming all the possible universal powers that kept her away from such ecstatic fun. The group consisted of her very close college mates with whom she had dreamt of spending the most amazing final year of her college life. Clearly, seeing them all together having fun without didn’t do any good to her otherwise sulky mood and she kept wondering what all she is missing and what they all must’ve been doing without her. Amidst all this, she said one thing which essentially was like an eye-opener for me- “I wish I hadn’t come back from my hostel, at least then I wouldn’t have to deal with this FOMO at all!” 

Dr. Lauren Mad says FOMO is a form of loss aversion. Loss Aversion is nature to give more importance to avoiding pain over making gains. 

So what does FOMO mean?

Ever since I heard this term I always understood it on a very superficial level, whereas, on digging some information about it, I was shocked to find out that FOMO is now a major issue among the netizens causing them anxiety, restlessness and also depression! It all started out ever so casually where some advertisers and marketing agencies on social media encouraged everyone to stay updated and ahead of time so that they don’t lag behind in any current happenings and experience the FEAR OF MISSING OUT in other words it can be put up as FEAR OF BEING LEFT OUT on the major happenings around them. But as more and more people publicly started sharing each and every positive aspect of their lives on social media, it became surprisingly easy for others to assume that what’s shared on social media is the ultimate showcase of the perfect lives people have. The fact that no one particularly shares their failures and hardships was quite difficult to accept. 

Studies have shown that on average a person checks his phone around 70-100 times a day, yes this also includes when u just pick it up to see the time! Out of these 100 times, the probability that it was to check an important message is just 10 out of 100. So, the rest of the time it’s just to see what’s happening around and whether or not there’s anything that I may be missing out in life. It takes your time management strategies for a toss.

fomo meaning

As human beings, it is impossible for us to have that perfect sense of right and wrong every single time. FOMO is something which mostly all of us have experienced in our lives sometimes even subconsciously.  The issue also needs to be addressed by trying to understand how to deal with FOMO. As the above scenario depicts, these days a very easy target of FOMO is teenagers and college-going students. Therefore, a major need for counselling and one-on-one sessions with students has occurred. Most of them aren’t even aware that what they are going through has even got a name! When people get to know that what they are dealing with is absolutely normal and that thousands of others out there are dealing with the same thing they find it easier to understand and talk more openly. And instead of feeling guilty about it, more focus is put on how to come up with a healthy way to deal with it and bring about positive changes in their lifestyle. Not indulging in any strict rules per-se, what can be done is making small changes and concentrating more on the self-introspection aspect, which is really a much-underrated term these days.

What we can do is try to be aware of how we react to certain things around us. The basic fact that no one’s lives are as perfect as social media claims to play a big part in this awareness. Obviously, no one’s going to stop posting or sharing just because they are worried if people will have FOMO! It should always be in the back of our minds that no negativity about anyone’s personal life is shared socially, not everything you see online is the complete story in itself. It is just what the socially acclaimed platforms want you to see and feel. This thought of awareness being included every day as a practice can eventually reduce the anxiety and resentment every time u deal with FOMO.

Another very important aspect here is to practice GRATITUDE. Start by taking small baby steps and be thankful for very basic things such as your body, house, parents, the air that you breathe, the food that you eat, and so on.

Article: How to be happy always says Happiness comes from expressing your gratitude honestly and sincerely.

You will discover that this is a never-ending list and the more things you find to be grateful for the more satisfied you will be within yourself and you’ll feel less need to be validated by others in your social group. From every tiny thing to all your big achievements, expressing gratitude at each step will give you more and more power over your happiness and well-being. A very simple trick is, at the end of the day, to note down ten things that you felt grateful for in your entire day. Initially, you’ll have to think quite hard on it but as it continues, you’ll find that throughout your day you are giving more time to count your blessings and remember them and less time to think about what others are doing out there and what you have been missing out.

Interestingly, has pointed out a new term emerging these days which is JOMO- the joy of missing out. It is the art of subtly saying NO to things that you don’t want to be a part of, and in doing so you don’t have any regrets but it gives you a feeling of empowerment, of having much better control over your decisions and your life.

So next time whenever you see any such pictures of a concert, new restaurant, that awesome new movie or simply your friends gathering without you, stop reaching the conclusion that your life is extremely boring and start thinking of all the ways of how you can use your time productively on bettering yourself. Not to show anyone out there but in the end, having that feeling of fulfilment before you have that sound sleep!