I have FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out.
The first step in the process of kicking a bad habit is admitting there's a problem, right?
Since I'm on the topic of admitting to things, I should confess I've grown to resent what FOMO stands for. This is because, over the years, I've felt first-hand the anxiety that comes as a result of FOMO -- and it's not something we should take lightly.
I'm not quite sure if the fear of missing out on something is a trait you're born with, develop through the years or is just a problem that's come to light since social media became a part of our lives. One thing is for sure, though: social media makes that type of fear surface with every refresh of your Instagram feed.
I suppose my story starts way before the likes of Instagram -- back when the only social media account I had was a MySpace and I still owned a flip phone. In my group of friends back in high school, I was always heckled about the fact that I just could never say "no" and miss out on group get-togethers. Soon after, I joined Facebook (at the time a rite of passage for college freshmen) and, subsequently, FOMO was born.
See, the fear of missing out typically starts with something small. For instance, you see a photo come through your newsfeed of a group of friends out at a hip bar or on the lake, and a thought of "I wish I were doing that" sneaks into your head. Not really a big deal, right? Just wait. Then, you see a photo album from an acquaintance's vacation or volunteer trip, and you're convinced that you need to do that (whatever "that" is) at some point. Soon, it turns into thoughts of places to move, jobs to snag or other life-related milestones.
With FOMO, you want to be everywhere doing everything. The issue is that you're actually everywhere and nowhere at the same time. You're too busy wishing you were someplace else to really enjoy whatever it is that you're doing at the moment. It's a larger problem than just missing out on a bar night of afternoon brunch. Many people are wishing their lives away by always trying to be two places at once: where they actually are and where their friends are (via social media). And, speaking from my experience, that hip bar is expensive, that lake is freezing and your friend's job is actually pretty terrible. Even an Instagram filter can't cover that one up.
So, with that, I'm ready to make a clean break from FOMO before it gets any worse. It's always a challenge to say you're going to stop "feeling" something, but there are a couple of changes I can make to fulfill this promise. First, I will stop checking my phone so often when I'm out with friends, family and my girlfriend. This way, I can truly enjoy what I'm up to rather than being dialed into what others are doing or talking about via social media.
Next, I plan to work on not taking for granted what I'm doing or who I'm doing it with. It might be minor, like walking to grab a coffee with a coworker, but I'll be present and give that person my full attention. It goes back to the lyric: You don't know what you've got till it's gone. Instead, I will try to now know what I've got -- before it's gone.
I know what you're thinking: these are tough changes to make instantly. I understand this, and I'm sure these changes won't be easy. That said, we could all stand to unplug from time to time, especially when we're with friends, family and significant others. You might end up having such a good time that one of your friends on social media gets FOMO about it.
Not me, though, I'm done with it.