Wikipedia meaning :
Fear of missing out is described as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”.
This social anxiety is characterised by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”. FOMO is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events.
In other words, FOMO makes you feel like you’re making the wrong decisions on how you are spending your time!
Wanting to feel connected to others is a legitimate psychological need. We are here on this planet to connect, learn, teach, mentor, befriend, love, disagree with and generally heal our karmic patterns with others. We were not meant to live alone. We only learn through relationship with an ‘other’.
However, with the expansion of the internet and social media, much of our interaction is online – so we can begin to rely on these methods of connection, and forget that we used to meet up face-to-face, make a telephone call or write a letter.
Social media is now an official addiction. How do we determine this is the case?
Are you able to turn off notifications on your phone and limit your time scrolling through content? Or do you have an uncontrollable urge to be online to the detriment of the rest of your life? – for example; neglecting your children or using social media when you are with family and could be chatting to them instead.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, snapchat and instagram produce the same neural circuitry that is caused in gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible. Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes and shares from these sites have affected the brain’s reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction as other drugs, such as cocaine. Neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.
Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort. Social media use becomes problematic when someone views its usage as an important coping mechanism to relieve stress, loneliness or depression. This is because it provides continuous rewards which are not being met in real life and a person can get stuck in a spiral of addiction to technology, rather than change their actual life to address the problem (such as speak to a therapist, start an exercise routine, join a club etc).
During this time of Covid-19 use of social media is huge. We want and need to stay connected. But it is all too easy to become overwhelmed with articles, memes, videos, pop up self help groups, the list is endless.
I recommend a Digital Detox – if you feel overwhelmed by social media but afraid of missing out and don’t want to disconnect completely, try these steps:
- Turn off sound notifications
- Only check social media sites once an hour
- Do not check your phone during meal time at all
- Leave your phone in another room at night, so as not to disturb your sleep – if you use your phone as a clock or as an alarm, buy a separate one
I have now limited the amount of time I spend on social media, even though I am aware it is a way to help and support people, and a useful marketing tool. I am also noticing how there is control over content. This automatically triggers warning bells, as we need to be allowed to have opinions and share those opinions, however controversial, for that is the nature of being human and having a unique experience on this Earth.
If you feel any of this blog post has triggered you in any way, please feel free to get in touch with me.