When Bitcoin’s price surged from about $1000 in January 2017 to almost $20,000 in December 2017, many took notice and decided to join the bandwagon.
Many feared that they were missing out on a goldmine and they figured the price was sure to go up some more. Some people sold properties or loaned money from banks just to be able to invest in the "currency of the future".
By January 2018, Bitcoin and other currencies lost almost 80% of their value in what is now known as the “Great crypto crash”.
This is just one example of the fear of missing out or FOMO, in a society where social media plays a vital role in the lives of people, especially the Millenials.
Signs and Symptoms of FOMO
Not until 2013 is the phrase FOMO or fear of missing out, has been accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary. But it was believed that the term was coined by a marketing strategist in the year 2000.
What are the signs that a person is suffering from the fear of missing out? Here are some of the symptoms for persons suffering from this psychological condition:
The strong urge to check social media for posts made by friends on their profile constantly.
The difficulty of concentrating or focusing at work or home without glancing on his or her smartphone.
Unable to control usage of social media which interferes in daily activities.
Mild to severe anxiety at the thought of not having access to their social media accounts.
The fear of missing out is becoming pervasive that it’s not unusual to see young people or even adults endanger themselves and others. You see people checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram while driving. The need for social connection is so great that people don't practice safety for fear that they miss a social event online.
Causes and Common Triggers of FOMO
The fear of missing out has been with us for hundreds of years. But it has never been put into focus as in our society today because of social media. Before the internet, high-school or even college classmates were out of touch once they graduate. It's only during school reunions that everyone gets to see each other. With Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, we are updated on each other's lives, sometimes in real-time. This is where the problem of FOMO comes. People can compare their lives with those of their friends. A friend's promotion, or a Paris vacation, it always seems they are happier and living a great life, while you always miss out and live a less than satisfactory lifestyle.
Here are some of the causes and common triggers of FOMO:
- Eagerness to check social media posts of friends even while on vacation.
- The urge to post everything that happens in your day on social media, from what you had for breakfast and what you plan to eat for dinner.
- Feeling depressed when you find out that your friends are together and enjoying themselves without you on social media.
- Feeling restless and worried if you don’t see what your friends are doing on Facebook or Instagram.
- Checking your social media feeds while at work, eating, or driving.
- Inability to focus on tasks because of social media.
- Anxiety when you cannot access your social media accounts.
Treatments of FOMO
Since FOMO is mainly caused by one's strong desire to always access social media platforms, one can do self-help once he or she becomes aware that they suffer from FOMO. While it may depend on the degree of one's dependence or even addiction to social media, professional help may sometimes be necessary if your personal relationships are affected. Here are some ways to overcome FOMO:
Disconnect: You may want to schedule your online activities and start to lessen them gradually until such time that you no longer have the urge to check your social media feeds. Learn to manage your time and focus on more productive activities that should give you more satisfaction and self-worth.
Stop the Comparison: Accept that you can't have everything you want, and stop comparing yourself to your friends who may be more financially successful than you. Always keep in mind that people will always show the better side of them on social media and everyone has their own battles that they often hide.
Values and Principles: Who is the real you? Clarify your values and what you believe in. Go beyond the superficial and evaluate what is the most important thing for you. Be content with what you currently have while working harder towards your dreams and aspirations.
Societal and Cultural Impact of FOMO
The societal impact of FOMO is huge especially among adolescents who are still trying to build their own identity. The Millenials live in a generation where the focus is on instant gratification. FOMO if not treated will result in low self-esteem, feeling of insecurity and helplessness.
How Common Is FOMO?
There are no available data on how many people suffer from FOMO. However, it's safe to say that a great deal of people who are actively engaged in social media has experienced a FOMO moment at least once or twice. But those who are at a level where a professional help may be needed is something that we can only guess.
What Should You Do If You Have FOMO?
Acknowledge that you have it and then do the self-help listed above. Just by disciplining yourself on the hours you go online is a big step towards overcoming your FOMO mindset.
Fear of Missing Out, to put it simply, is the apprehension that others are enjoying without you there. By learning to accept that with so many things happening all at the same time, all of us are always bound to miss on something. But if we learn to live at the moment and be grateful for what we have, we can learn to focus on what is truly important and that is what matters.