Why Do We Experience FOMO? - Deepstash
Why Do We Experience FOMO?

Why Do We Experience FOMO?

Curated from: discovermagazine.com

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The Fear Of Missing Out

The Fear Of Missing Out

FOMO, or the fear of missing out on experiences we deem worthwhile, may make people feel they aren’t living their lives as fully as their counterparts are. Surprisingly, social media doesn’t seem to directly cause this phenomenon: Research has shown that people with no social media presence experience FOMO to the same degree as any social media-addicted person would.  

If people’s basic psychological needs aren’t met, they are more likely to experience what is now called FOMO. 


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Individual Susceptibility

Individual Susceptibility

Those with an unchecked ego, identity and codependency issues, and major insecurities are more vulnerable to FOMO. If someone lacked a healthy relationship with at least one caregiver growing up, they may participate in toxic attention-seeking that can lead to FOMO if not reciprocated. 

A lack of satisfaction with one’s life can also induce these feelings.  When a person is dissatisfied with their life, they run the risk of developing FOMO, as they heedlessly look for ways to make life more satisfying.


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The Problem With Instant Gratification

The Problem With Instant Gratification

Seeking out instant gratification can trigger FOMO. Reaching true contentment, meanwhile, can take plenty of effort — particularly for those who have faced significant trauma. We look for instant gratification because we are trying to avoid discomfort of any kind.

We are often taught that this is an acceptable or viable approach as children, but instant gratification that involves distracting or numbing ourselves to our discomfort in the moment can have significant consequences like addiction and dependence.


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FOMO Inside the Brain

FOMO Inside the Brain

When FOMO involves distressing emotions, the stress and limbic systems are activated — namely, the amygdala and the hypothalamus.  Social exclusion itself profoundly activates the amygdala and hypothalamus; they are one of the most robust stressors we experience.

Our brains may pull memory files that resurface the painful psychological responses we experienced after missing out on activities we considered pleasurable. This distress modifies the memory system and creates negative memories and emotional states, a process that involves the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. 


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The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

While FOMO is usually viewed as harmful, could it ever be considered a good thing? It depends on what you do with it.

The feeling can even serve as a powerful motivator when people start listening to it thoughtfully and map out the approach to realistically achieve their goals.

  • You can even view FOMO as a source of ideas and inspiration.
  • Your core impulse is centered on improving your condition when you feel FOMO.
  • Fundamentally, FOMO is aspirational in nature, rooted in a search for whatever’s bigger, better and brighter than your current surroundings.


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