18 January 2014

What is FOMO?

First of all, what the hell does FOMO stand for?

One of those little acronyms the 'yoof' are so fond of, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

Irritating it may be, but it is useful in describing a feeling we are all familiar with.

Like when you couldn't go to that party, but now you're wondering who is embarrassingly drunk, who is snogging who and - most importantly - if anyone has asked where you are.

Party people

After all, there are only so many silly hat parties a person gets invited to. Image: Bryan Peters on Flickr.

Are you suffering from FOMO?

So, how do you know if you're suffering from FOMO? Answer these questions:

  • In the last month, have you an attended an event that you didn't really need or want to go to?
  • Are you a sucker for limited time offers?
  • Do you check your social networks and/or email more than 5 times a day?
  • When you see your friends' pictures of social events that you weren't at, are you filled with envy?
  • If you can't go to something, does it make you anxious?
  • Do you have an iPhone, iPad or other device that you got after you saw your mate had one?
  • Do you look up your exes (and ex-friends) online?
  • Does your life feel less exciting than those of your friends (and their friends)?

Excited dog

And certainly less exciting than this dog's life. Image: Mel Gupta on Flickr.

If you answered yes to at least 3 of the above, you are suffering from FOMO.

What to do about FOMO - step 1

First of all, accept that the stuff people are posting online is like one of those peep-hole picture books you get for kids (or pervy adults) - you're only ever seeing part of the picture.

That party that looked so awesome? Everyone went home by 10 o'clock.

The gig that you couldn't get tickets to? Way over-hyped.

That trip that your friends went on? They only posted one photo of the resort because it wasn't as nice as it looked in the brochure.

Pool by the beach

Not pictured: the smell of sewage. Image: Trey Ratcliffe on Flickr.

You're comparing yourself to a world that doesn't really exist.

What to do about FOMO - step 2

The second step is to limit your social media interactions. Stop taking your phone into the toilet, don't leave your tablet by your bed, and use a block on your laptop that limits how long you fanny about on social media sites (you can use Leechblock for Firefox, Nanny for Chrome, SelfControl for Mac and just throw your computer in the bin if you're still using Internet Explorer).

Or you could, you know, use a literal block. Image: Doug Woods on Flickr.

What to do about FOMO - step 3

The third step, which is usually overlooked in guides to overcoming FOMO is to actually make your life better.

Don't pretend to be happy sitting in your pants every night watching "Come Dine With Me" reruns - you wouldn't be reading this if you found that a satisfying way to spend your time.

Instead, find some things that are really going to make you happy and fulfilled - not the stuff that other people say is cool (let's face it, everyone secretly thinks clubbing is over-rated).

Go travelling, find a new job, try online dating, learn Arabic - and most importantly, do it for its own sake, not because you want to show off to your mates. Showing off only makes FOMO worse!

Duckling showing off

A duckling showing off. At least he doesn't have his own Instagram account. Image: Kimberly Brown-Azzarello on Flickr.

How do you cope with FOMO? Tell us in the comments!