Social media is a remarkable tool for staying connected. But if you are a social media junkie who can’t pull yourself away from it, you may well be a victim of FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out.”
Especially if the time you spend on social media leaves you feeling like you’re less than or that the real world just can’t measure up to the virtual world.
And it could be affecting you in negative ways you’ve never considered.
Social Media Is Not Reality
It’s important to remember that social media is like a movie trailer. People typically post the high points and most exciting moments of their lives. Most people are not posting the times they’re cleaning the house, dealing with a sick child, fighting with their partner or boss, etc.
If you’re endlessly scrolling through pages and pages of your friends and family members living the good life, it’s easy to get drawn into the illusion that they’re all doing everything right. Meanwhile, you’re lying on the couch polishing off your second box of Cheez-Its.
Soon enough, you’re bathed in dissatisfaction that you’re not living your life the way you “should.” Eventually, you fall prey to the pervasive anxiety that you’re missing out on life experiences that everyone else seems to be having.
The operative word here is seems because social media is not an accurate interpretation of anyone’s life. In fact, it’s a trap.
FOMO Pulls You From the Present Moment
The fear of missing out on things is nothing new. Humans have experienced it for centuries in countless cultures around the globe. The term FOMO in terms of social media, however, was introduced in 2004 and has been used extensively since 2010. It even got an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.
The prevalence of social media has clearly amped FOMO up to a whole new level. For instance, think about a time you made a commitment to just stay in for an evening to soak up some self-care. Maybe you ran a bath, made a special dinner for yourself, then curled up with a good book. Maybe your version is different. It doesn’t matter.
At some point, you probably slipped into a blissful state of being totally present in the moment. That sort of presence is the objective of mindful practices and it’s so beneficial for the mind, body, and soul.
Then your phone or device dinged.
Your friends are all at the bar having a great time. Or your cousins got together for dinner and it’s pure delight. In mere seconds, you’re plunged into FOMO. All that peace and bliss you experienced has flown right out the window.
So much for self-care.
Are You a Victim of FOMO?
If you have a compulsive need to stay connected with social media and find yourself constantly checking in on others’ online lives, you may well be a victim of FOMO. And you’re not alone. Because of social media, FOMO is at an all-time high.
As such, researchers have started looking at the impact of FOMO on our physical and mental health. People caught in the throes of FOMO experience more loneliness, mood swings, social anxiety, negativity, depression, and feelings of inferiority.
If you’re struggling with FOMO, you have likely drawn the focus from your life and shifted it to what other people are doing. This diminishes your sense of identity and lowers your self-esteem.
One of the most dire consequences of FOMO and social media addiction is an increased use of drugs or other substances in an attempt to emulate the seemingly perfect lives of others. At this point, FOMO has become dangerous.
Moving Past FOMO
The most obvious way to reduce FOMO is to decrease dependency on social media. Going cold turkey doesn’t usually work, so take regular social media breaks instead – stretching them out longer each time.
There’s another way to shift the focus from those we believe are doing better than us. Instead of wasting time scrolling through Twitter, give that time instead to a charity or social cause to help those who are less fortunate. This will help reframe your perspective.
In addition, you may want to consider keeping a gratitude journal. Writing down even just five things for which you’re grateful each day reminds you of the value and meaningfulness of your own life. You could also use one of your social media breaks each day to engage in a mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation.
Finally, if you’re really struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Because FOMO and social media addiction are such legitimate issues, there are therapists who specialize in this area.
Tune Out and Tune In
You don’t have to be a victim of FOMO.
If you’d like to explore the healing powers of yoga, meditation, and life coaching, contact us today. We offer our services both in-person and virtually.
It’s time to start your journey away from social media and toward practices that leave you feeling good about yourself. Just as you are.