FOMO is the fear of missing out, we all deal with it at some point in our lives, it can be anything from going to that social event you don’t actually want to be at. To something as simple as watching a television series because everyone else is talking about it, and despite not being interested, you do not want to miss out. You find yourself trying to be like those that are well-liked in aid of people liking you more, despite the fact that if people don’t like you for who you are, they’re not really your friends and you are better off without them.
Fear of missing out can affect us all in different ways, and for me, it was consuming my life. From being envious of those beautiful selfies people put on Snapchat and Instagram, to that beautiful holiday, we filter our lives on social media and only share what we want to share and often it has been heavily edited beforehand. When I was suffering from FOMO at its worst doing things I wouldn’t ever dream of doing because my friends were doing it. I wanted to fit in so bad I was willing to do whatever it took. For me, it was always the not knowing, the inside jokes, the secret smiles about something I didn’t understand and when I would ask I was told ‘you had to be there’. I hated feeling like I was missing out and that my friends would soon become bored with me, the girl who hated going out, wanted to stay home and couldn’t really cope with human interaction.
It took over my life and social media makes it so much easier to allow it to happen. With just about everything posted on some sort of social media in 2018, it is pretty much impossible to escape. If you don’t go to that social event, you will see all the realms of Snapchats on your phone and the collection of photos which appear on Facebook the next day and then worry about what you’ve missed out on. Fear of missing out also makes you feel incredibly selfish, instead of thinking oh I hope they had fun, you sit and wonder if the photos made it look better than what it was and maybe it was actually really bad, and that you should be glad you didn’t go.
If you weren’t invited to an event, you will know that you weren’t and who was, and it makes you consider everything about yourself and what you’ve done to that person, despite it actually might not be anything. A lot of people don’t understand the true extent of FOMO, it literally can control your life. Make you do things you really don’t want to do, go out and be social even though your mind is begging you to stay in and sleep, but you know you can’t miss out. It seems like something that is easy to fix and that it isn’t actually that big of a deal, but with a constant reminder of what is happening around you on social media, it can a really toxic place, even in your own house.
Frankii from Quite Franklii says:
“I feel like because of my anxiety and the fact I married quite young I think people often assume I’m old and boring as though I’ve become a totally different person. That’s not always the case- though I don’t drink often anymore or have the desire to go clubbing I am always more than happy to host get together at my house and other things. It gets to a stage where you always feel like you’re a friend but never the best friend”
Like Frankii, I too struggle with going out to clubs due to my anxiety and I am not a big drinker either, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to do anything, I just don’t want to do that. I don’t mind having people over or going to theirs I just find it hard to hang out in a location I do not feel comfortable, but can often mean me forcing myself to do things which make me feel uneasy just so I don’t miss out.
Kim from The Colour Chronicles says:
I used to get FOMO really bad when at uni when there was more free time to be more social and I thought by not joining in/attending I’d end up with no friends or people wouldn’t want to hang out with me which ended up with me doing things I didn’t really want to or spending money I didn’t really have just to try and make friends. These days it’s something I suffer from a lot too – having a much smaller friendship group, it’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking if you’re not around much then people will forget or not want to invite you to things. Unfortunately a lot of the time that seems to be the case but it’s better for my mental health not partaking in things I don’t want to – sometimes you just need a night in and it’s helped me a lot more to accept that as self-care, rather than go out and be social and I know I won’t miss out on much! Also, if you’ve got FOMO because you think people will forget you or not want to invite you out because you don’t go out often and then they do stop inviting you, they’re not great friends anyway.
University is one of the worst places to deal with FOMO in my opinion due to the amount of time you ‘have’ to spend being social, whether you want to or not as a fresher it’s pretty much expected of you and it’s the best way to socialise, not doing so makes you a bit of an outsider and can often cause friction with friends. You might not even want to do all of these things, but in your head, you NEED to, or you’ll miss out and your friends will think less of you. I feel like FOMO is often heightened if you suffer from mental health issues, as it seems almost impossible to get rid of it and you end up not being able to cope, I have lost friends over agreeing to plans, with a full intention of going, but then the anxiety kicks in and the FOMO and the anxiety battle it, but the anxiety always wins and despite wanting to do this thing, you can’t and your friends don’t understand. You tell them, and they say they get it, but you start getting invited out less and less.
FOMO is only getting to get worse as social media progresses and the future of social media will be something like that episode of Black Mirror where everything is based on social scores. It’s a scary prospect, but it’s likely to become a part of everyday life more than it already is because let’s face it, as nobody wants to miss out. If you’re struggling with low self-confidence, why not reach out to BetterHelp who offer a variety of support online including therapy and counselling.