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The Fear of Missing Out: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Instagram

The fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO = the compulsive desire to experience something (or be somewhere) motivated by the fear of what you will potentially lose. And this idea of loss is usually imagined. FOMO is that irrational belief that everyone is always having more fun than you, at all times.

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The Fear of Missing Out: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Instagram

The Fear of Missing Out: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Instagram

https://markmanson.net/fear-of-missing-out

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Key Ideas

The fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO = the compulsive desire to experience something (or be somewhere) motivated by the fear of what you will potentially lose. And this idea of loss is usually imagined. FOMO is that irrational belief that everyone is always having more fun than you, at all times.

FOMO and the quality of our experiences

FOMO make us want to accumulate as many experiences as possible, but at the same time, it robs those experiences of any real meaning. That's because it causes people to make their decisions based not on the reality of the experience, but rather the imagined experience. 

Overcoming FOMO

The way to get out of feeling FOMO is to start killing those fantasies that you’re letting rule your decision making. And that means understanding there’s no such thing as a perfect night out or a perfect party. 

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Slow down

Practice taking your time when eating, driving, talking, or engaging in the tasks of everyday living. 

Practice discernment
... in regard to distinguishing what is truly important and necessary from what is merely desirable.

Focus on the kinds of things that enhance the quality not the quantity of your experiences.


Go for the experience, not the symbol

There are always going to be people we admire and perhaps envy. It’s “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome.

Focusing on the experience—a feeling of accomplishment, adventure, connection, fun, self-respect, freedom—that underlies the object or symbol—wealth, marriage, a sports car, a luxurious home—helps us distinguish what is truly fulfilling from that which can only provide a temporary feeling of pleasure.

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FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

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.

Th...

What you really wish to do

Choosing one path means missing another.

When you feel FOMO coming on, 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.

The need for a change

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.

Examine the source of your FOMO before dismissing it; there may be a good reason you feel insecure about your decisions.

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The "Fear" in FOMO

Living with constant or recurring fear, from post-traumatic stress to paranoia to FOMO, doesn’t improve life quality; it just makes us haunted and tense.

Our task is to live in a FOMO-plag...

FOMO is based on lies

When you feel FOMO coming on, remind yourself that practically every image you see on practically any screen is likely misleading. 

The human experience depicted by the media is never the whole truth — and often an outright lie. 

Fight FOMO with FOMO

What if we let FOMO mean something else? 

  • Fear of Moving On. With this definition, you remind yourself that fixating on things you may be missing is just another way of resisting your own life, your own unfolding destiny.
  • Find One Magnificent Object. When FOMO strikes, let it prompt you to contemplate something wonderful: the sun, a bowl of soup, your own hand.
  • Feel Okay More Often. Realize that simple equanimity, along with the enjoyment of small things, is the healthy diet that yields sustainable happiness.

Try inventing your own FOMO definition. 

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FOMO Comes From Unhappiness

You’re not feeling so great — whether you realize it or not — and you turn to social media to make you feel better. Only one problem there: it actually makes you feel worse…

The Facebook Illusion

We all know that Facebook doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. It’s more like the cherry-picked perfection version.

People with FOMO have ambivalent feelings toward Facebook. It brings them up when they post about their own carefully edited version of life awesomeness, and slams them back down when they feel they have to compete with other people's lifestyle awesomeness - especially when they're feeling a little down or anxious themselves.

The Problem Is Attention

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. 

Changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.

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Fear of moving abroad

Any decision as big as moving abroad is bound to spark fear: The timing will never feel perfect. It will always be hard to leave family and friends, and your career will always be in f...

Plan in advance

Careful planning can cancel out many of the common fears around moving abroad, including fears about your career or the fear of being lonely. 

The movie-like approach of "pick a place you think you might like, save money, buy a one-way ticket and hope that you will get a job once you are there" might not work for you if you are held out by fears.

Be realistic

There is always a chance that moving abroad won't work out as you imagined.

Realize that this won't be the end of the world. You can always go back home, or you can always move to another city or country. This is not your only shot, and if you decide your new home isn't for you, it's perfectly okay to reconsider.

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FOMO Meaning
The “fear of missing out” refers to the feeling of “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.”

Most people at one time or another have been preoccupi...

Relish feeling out of the loop
Admit that you are missing out and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash wrote about the “Joy of Missing Out,” a term he coined to describe the satisfaction of doing things on his own terms. 

Refrain from social media
Try staying offline for a day, a week, or maybe even a month to wake up to the wonders of the real world. 

If you return, decide which sites to spent time on and which not.

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Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Fear of missing out (FOMO)

The fear of missing out has always been there. But the explosion of social media has made FOMO more prevalent as we can easily see what all our peers are doing all the time.

The effects of FOMO

In a recent study, scientists examined the effect of FOMO on first-year university students.

  • The results of this study showed that FOMO was present throughout the day, but mostly later in the day and nearing the weekend.
  • Those whose behaviors felt more like obligations, including studying or working, suffered more from FOMO.
  • FOMO was also associated with adverse outcomes, such as fatigue, stress, sleep problems, and psychosomatic symptoms.
  • FOMO was felt by all regardless of personality.
FOMO linked to social media

In a study, the team was interested in finding out if FOMO experiences were linked to social media usage. FOMO seemed to be a commonly reported feeling, which created negative emotions and feelings of distraction.

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The new buzzword

The "pursuit of joy" seems to be the new buzzword to counter the fear of missing out phenomenon.

What brings you joy? Joy is pared with cleaning up our cluttered lives: from household clu...

Life clutter builds up

We are constantly invited to do something, think something, experience something or buy something.

For every social event or task we say yes to, we run the risk of overfilling our lives. It may leave us feeling overstretched, overtired and overwhelmed.

Inability to say "no"

There is often an underlying fear that prevents us from saying no. Perhaps we fear that we are not good enough. We find the compulsive "yes" might help us feel better. However, we cannot continue living at this pace.

We need to ask ourselves why we continue to do the very things that make us unhappy. Self-restraint and missing out are vital for our well-being.

Coping with life struggles

When we struggle with something that most people don’t seem to struggle with, we start to think there's something wrong with us. And we tend to live in ways that avoid making our struggles obv...

Nobody can assess ease and difficulty objectively

We get to know the world and its challenges through a unique, personal experience, which nobody else can see, so nobody has a direct view of what’s easy or hard in the experience of others. We piece together what’s “normal” by observing how others, on the whole, seem to be doing at the same challenges.

Perception and experience

Two people’s experiences of the same challenge differ wildly, beyond any desire, effort, and perseverance. But most of the messages we get about success (at school, at work,  in the media) minimize everything else. Nobody can ever tell you how hard or easy something should be for you. They don’t have enough information.

Living your life over again

If you can calculate the odds of living your life all over again, would you do the same things you are doing now? If you are 35 now, starting all over would make you 70. By 40, starting o...

Your life starts NOW

Instead of becoming discouraged by all the goals that have not been completed, decide to start living. Live with clarity and direction. 

Realize that the time is passing, but it's what we do every moment forward that counts.