Remember when your friends went out for a nice dinner party and you couldn’t come because you had to work? How did you feel? Annoyed, upset, or even anxious? You were probably experiencing FOMO, the burdensome fear of missing out.
According to Jennifer Walkin, a New York-based health and neuropsychologist, FOMO is defined as social anxiety, which stems from the belief that others are thriving while we are not or that others are generally living a better life.
Often used among Millennials and Gen Z’s, the term was first described in an academic paper in 2000 by a marketing strategist Dan Herman in The Journal of Brand Management. However, it was popularized in 2004 by Patrick McGinnis, an American venture capitalist. Unaware of his consequences, he captured the outbreak of the sentiment in an op-ed in a magazine called Harbus at Harvard Business School. FOMO is now a worldwide known phenomenon.
How about now, when everything is canceled?
Even though many countries are slowly reopening for travel, there are still places with strict lockdown measurements. There are no parties, no concerts, no cinema. So how can one these days possibly fear of missing out?
As reported by Lalin Anik, an assistant professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, FOMO just moved online. We now feel that we could miss out on digital experiences. For example, not watching a popular Netflix series, not learning how to make homemade bread based on a YouTube video, and such might lead up to feel excluded.
In fact, now that everything is online, we can pass up a lot. We can often face diﬃculties to catch up with everything that is on oﬀer. We can access numerous activities such as fitness lessons or language courses from all parts of the world from the comfort of our home. But we cannot always participate in them.
On the other hand, Dana E. Phillips, an emergency medicine physician who is now on maternity leave, experienced FOMO for not being on the front lines while there was a need.
Another thing is FOMO for what could have been. Melissa Gratias, a productivity expert, noted that people feel quarantine pity for what could 2020 be like if there was no Coronavirus. For example, you booked a dream holiday, but you couldn’t go. And you are upset that COVID-19 canceled your plans. Uncertainty about the future contributes to provoking this feeling. But what else?
Social media is the trigger.
Social media is known to be the main cause. Again, your friends are out and about in the mountains, and you are sitting at your desk. Did they tell you they went on a trip? No, you just probably saw a nice photo on Facebook or Instagram and assumed they were having a good time.
There are many other people that you follow on Instagram. They travel, read great books, and eat good food. Your quarantine was nice, but you feel theirs was better. And here comes quarantine FOMO.
It is essential to consider that the use of social media increased during the pandemic. We didn’t want to be alone. We wanted to socialize. I spend hours on social media platforms, especially at the beginning of the crisis. What I didn’t realize was that I was actually disconnecting myself from reality. As a result, I was left detached from the whole society.
How to deal with FOMO?
As we can see, FOMO during the pandemic does exist indeed, though it didn’t seem like it at first glance. But we can do something about it.
First of all, taking a break from social media from time to time might help reduce FOMO levels. It will allow us to stop comparing ourselves to others and give us some time to participate in the mentioned activities.
According to Wolkin, it is also recommended to engage in mindful media, which means following accounts and news to generate positive emotions. Instead of looking at pretty pictures, we should rather learn to appreciate the present moment, suggests Anik. That is called JOMO – the joy of missing out.
COVID-19 might be here with us for a bit longer, and we will probably have to skip more beers out, more parties, and crazy festivals for a while. But let’s keep our heads up. Shall we try JOMO, then?
Sources: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2014/07/29/fomo-history/, https:// eu.usatoday.com/story/life/2020/08/11/covid-19-fomo-fear-missing-out-persists-amid-pandemic/ 3338062001/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298080/pdf/ S1481803520004108a.pdf, https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/coronavirus-
quarantine-fomo, https://www.meadowsranch.com/fomo-covid-even-a-pandemic-hasnt-stifled- our-fear-of-missing-out/)