Until I picked up my December issue of Self magazine, I had never heard of the term FOMO (or “Fear of Missing Out”). I decided to do a little research and came across this article from The NY Times. The author describes FOMO as the “blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media.” I don’t know about you, but I suffer from FOMO like a Mo Fo.
It’s what causes me to launch myself cat-like across a room when I see the red light start blinking on my BlackBerry. I’m afraid it’s a work-related e-mail and that someone else might respond a nanosecond faster than I can and they’ll look super smart while I’ll look like a slacker, and my boss will never give me a raise again because I didn’t hit send fast enough. (I have a very love/hate relationship with my BlackBerry.)
But it’s not just with work. When I see my SAHM friends doing adorable things with their kiddos during the day while I’m stuck in the office, it not only makes me feel left out, it makes me feel like a terrible mother. It’s the feeling of inadequacy that often accompanies FOMO that I think is the hardest part for me. I am always wondering if we’re doing okay financially, if I’m doing a good job raising my daughter, if we are making all of the right decisions for our family. The worrying is endless—and I’m a worrier by nature. And with a steady stream of pictures and status updates coming from Facebook, it’s even easier to compare your life with the lives of others.
During my research, I also came across this article about FOMO by John M. Grohol, PSYD, CEO and founder of Psych Central. He says,
“Connected to this fear of missing out on something better that’s going on without you are these fake personas we promote on websites like Facebook. . . instead of us being completely real, many (most?) of us censor what we post to our social media profile these days. The people on Facebook are often simply their idealized selves. . .”
So the next time you log onto Facebook and start feeling sorry for yourself, try to remember this fact: that you’re never seeing the whole picture. Someone is probably reading your status updates and looking at your pictures and thinking what a perfect life you must have.
And I’ll try to start taking my own advice.
Am I alone in this, or are there other people out there just as nutty as me? If so, how do you get past it and focus on the positive?