Do you check Facebook (or other social media) five times a day?
Do you check up on what your friends are doing? Do you worry that you are missing out on activities? Do you feel anxious and sick if you know that your friends are going out without you?
You may have FOMO (fear of missing out).
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1) FOMO is “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”.
According to a 2015 Australian survey by the Australian Psychological Society (2) a quarter of adults and more than half of teenagers experience FOMO. Heavy social media users appear to be affected more than other groups (which may not be surprising, as they are more likely to be aware of events that they are missing). 63% of this heavy social media user group admitted being bothered when they miss out on a planned get together.
Young Australian adults (18 to 35-year-olds – particularly males) reported the highest levels of FOMO amongst adults. and research shows people who experience FOMO have lower levels of satisfaction with their lives, and are much more likely to be high users of social media, even to the extent of using it while driving (3).
A study carried out with 76 Irish university students (4) indicated that people with FOMO experienced increased:-
- feelings of being singled out
- dishonesty in the portrayal of one’s self-image
- feelings of personal inadequacy
- feelings of loneliness
- unfair judgements of others
- dissatisfaction with one’s life
- detachment from family and friends
- jealousy in relation to the lives of others.
FOMO leads us to want to constantly know what is going on in other places. And of course, since the rise of social media, checking in on other people is something we can do instantly, 24 hours a day.
In fact a bank even introduced ‘FOMO’ loans for students….. so that they could get the money to join in with social events that they would otherwise miss (5). The bank was heavily criticised for this of course.
The influence of social media
For many of us, it’s hard to imagine a world without social media. A 2016 report by Sensis (6) found that in Australia, 50% of the Australian adult population checks social media at least once per day, with 26% checking it more than five times per day. 75% of 18-29 year olds check social networking sites at least once per day
However, with social media, we can check the highlights of our friends’ social life. This means that we are skimming through all the good news from multiple people (our friends), but most likely our friends do not post the boring news about their lives, so we get an unreal view of how successful others are, and how much fun they are having!
How to keep FOMO under control
I will cover this further in another post in a few days, but some of the ways to manage FOMO are:-
1. Decide where you direct your attention
As Paul Dolan (academic at the London School of Economics) explains in his book, Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think (7):
2. Be grateful for what you have in your life
Think of the important people and experiences that you have in your life: maybe you have your parents, friends, and colleagues to support you. You may be fit and healthy, have a reasonable income so that you can afford life’s necessities, etc. It is easy to assume that everyone has these factors in their life, but many people do not!
Imagine that one or more of these were taken away from you. I realise this can be confronting, so if necessary just imagine it for a moment. It can make us realise how much we have in our lives that we are taking for granted.
3. Don’t check social media so much
I know this one may be difficult for some people, but decreasing the number of times that you check what your friends are doing (and worry that your life is not as good as theirs) will mean you have less unhappiness and anxiety, which in turn diminishes the FOMO monster!
If you feel that you would like to improve your life, please feel free to contact me at Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy on 0403 932311, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free phone consultation.
Hypnotherapy can be especially useful for helping you:-
- look differently at events in your past
- practice positive self-talk
- concentrate on the present (rather than worrying about the past and future)
- motivate yourself towards your goals.
We can discuss your specific requirements, and there is absolutely no obligation to proceed with hypnotherapy unless you choose to do so.
© Lisa Billingham, 2018