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Fear of missing out or FOMO

In 2013 the word “FOMO” was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. This clever acronym, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out, was coined to describe that anxious feeling that can arise when you feel there are more exciting things that are happening elsewhere — and unfortunately, you are not there.

It happens on a daily basis. you routinely scroll through your Facebook feed while sipping your morning cuppa. That's when you see photos and status updates about people doing things: going to fabulous events, attending sports games from the company box, brunching at the newest hotspot, or sipping mojitos on an exotic beach, and all with perfectly filtered photographic evidence to show for it. Thanks to the wonders of 4G, these friends’ day-to-day lives have somehow become part of your own too.

It often stirs a jittery feeling inside you, and you sometimes find yourself asking “Why am I not doing those things?”

It’s getting later in the evening, but you’re feeling restless. You want to wind down after a long day by casually browsing your Instagram or Facebook feed when you’re overcome by an all-too-familiar sensation. You see a friend has uploaded pictures of an elaborate dinner. Another has recorded a beach sunset saturated with beautiful pastels. As you scroll through countless stories of your friends doing fun and impressive things, your restlessness continues to build and build.

The emotions are hard to describe, but it feels like a weird combination of exclusion, self-loathing, and envy. It’s a strange and utterly empty feeling, and it’s becoming increasingly more common among social media users.

What is FOMO?
Social media users have the perfect tools to highlight manufactured, embellished, or phony representations of their lives on their online profiles, which makes it easy for other users to envy them. In short, FOMO is the anxiety or motivation social media users feel when they want to belong to some group, event, or even a moment that others are posting about.

It arises from feelings of social exclusion, isolation, or anxiety and can be so intense that people will abandon what they’re doing to join or consume a fleeting moment on social media. 

FOMO affects people of all age groups.

Why Do We Experience FOMO?
Identifying the characteristics of FOMO is tricky because different people have different social priorities. One thing is common among people who experience FOMO: the feeling of social exclusion.
The fear of missing out refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than you are. It involves a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem. It is often exacerbated by social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

And then there is FOMO marketing?
We’re all familiar with the fear of missing an amazing opportunity.
We don’t want to look back on our lives and wonder, “What if?” Savvy marketers have tapped into this common anxiety among consumers to great effect.

f smart marketers are able to tap into this psychological concept, they can gently encourage their prospective customers to jump on an opportunity they’re serving up on a silver platter.

FOMO marketing refers to messaging that appeals to consumers’ desire to latch on to every opportunity before it slips through their fingers.

Many people would rather make an impulse purchase than regret failing to act later.

The psychology behind FOMO marketing works because we’re a risk-averse species.
In some cases, avoiding risk means passing up a purchase because we fear putting our money behind something that won’t meet our expectations.

However, risk avoidance can also mean preventing the possibility of regretting an opportunity. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position.

An example of FOMO Marketing:
Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a car. You have a general idea of what kind of vehicle you want and how much you’re willing to spend.

Suddenly, you see a Facebook Ad announcing a huge promotion at your local dealership. You see the exact car you want. It is very cheap and there are only two left. Maybe you hadn’t yet committed to a vehicle purchase, but now your FOMO is in high gear.

You’re afraid of missing out on this chance to save tons of money because it might never present itself again. That’s FOMO marketing.

5 simple ways to create FOMO on social media by Carly Stringer  
1.   Create urgency
2.   Create scarcity
3.   Create exclusivity
4.   Offer early bird rewards
5.   Create hype around an event

Around 7 in 10 (69%) of millennials have experienced FOMO
  • Have you heard this recently?

  • Did you see that movie?

  • Have you heard that song?

  • Have you done that challenge?

If you answered no to any of these questions and then made it a priority to go and see that movie, hear that song or do that challenge you have experienced FOMO

I think that nails it

FOMO taps into a simple yet primitive desire to be in on the action, to be “in the know.” No one wants to be left out, after all. Missing out is a universal fear that goes back thousands of years. To be out of the loop puts a person at odds with the group. 
It creates social friction and could even be a threat to survival back at one time.  

So it’s easy to see why inclusion is a priority for people. 

“FOMO is characterised by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing,”

And this fear is only heightened by social media.

As humans, we naturally want to be a part of things, to know what’s going on, to be connected. 

What does FOMO really mean?

…‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – what your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’.

Under this framing of FOMO, nearly three quarters of young adults reported they experienced the phenomenon. It’s certainly not a good thing and it leads you to check social media again and again and again so you don’t feel out of the loop. So you know you’re doing okay. So you don’t feel left out.

Sometimes that alleviates the anxiety — but often it doesn’t. And either way it drives you to keep running around the digital hamster wheel to feel okay with yourself.

The Problem Is Attention.

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Sounds cliche, but the research says you need to look inside:

The problem with FOMO is the individuals it impacts are looking outward instead of inward, When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world.

Facebook isn’t real life.
It’s obviously not life. And it’s certainly not real. Only real life is real life. But you’re comparing yourself to fake life. And the key to happiness really comes down to one word: ATTENTION.

We all have bad things we could think about, but they don’t bother us when we pay them no mind. “Look on the bright side” is a cliche, but it’s also scientifically valid.
Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together…

And that’s what the research shows: people with FOMO stop paying attention to life and turn to social media for their happiness cure.

Students with FOMO pay less attention in school and are even more likely to check their phone when they’re driving:
So how do you focus your attention so that you appreciate the real world and don’t turn to social media which is only going to make you feel worse? What can you pay attention to when life is, frankly, kinda sad or boring?

Sounds sappy, I know, try a simple experiment:
Look around. What good things might you be taking for granted? Home? Family? Friends?

Now take a couple of seconds to imagine how you would feel if those were taken away from you.

Bad things happen to us randomly, right? So to some degree, you are lucky to have what you do.

Does this exercise sound silly?  Mentally subtracting cherished moments from your life makes you appreciate them more, makes you grateful and makes you happier.

In fact, gratitude is arguably the king of happiness.
…the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic. And feeling gratitude doesn’t just make you happier, it’s associated with an objectively better life:
…we found that gratitude, controlling the greediness, uniquely predicts all outcomes considered:
  • higher achievements,

  • life satisfaction,

  • social integration, and

  • inclusion,

  • as well as lower envy and depression.

The inevitable comparisons to the fake lives on social media makes you feel you have less. Contemplating what you are lucky to already possess makes you feel you have more. So maybe it’s time to look at the good things you take for granted in life rather than your Facebook wall. Turn notifications off.

For people who feel very secure in their relationships, their relationships are important to them, but they don’t feel compelled to always be connected.

A few more practices that can help you come face-to-face with your FOMO — and ultimately, beat it.

1. Admit you have a problem.
Let’s get real, and say it with me: “I cannot be everywhere at all times and always be doing the coolest thing ever. And that’s OK.”
Doesn’t that feel better? Admitting and accepting that you have anxiety can feel like your secret has been unleashed to the universe and the burden is off your shoulders. You’re acknowledging the insecurity, and with that recognition you can now tackle the problem.

2. Switch off the chatter.
Please turn off your phone! Learn to redo your morning without your eyes glued to Instagram. It may not be viable to deactivate your social media accounts, but learn to limit your activity.
One CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) technique prescribes setting aside a certain time of day to check all your social media outlets. Let’s say that you take the bus home from work every day from 5:30 to 6:10 pm. Make this your one and only time of day to check your accounts. Find a time of day that works for you to catch up with Facebook, and stick to it.

3. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that refers to a nonjudgmental observation or awareness that is focused on the present experience.

Try this mindfulness immersion exercise:
Take a mundane daily activity like washing the dishes and try to sense the muscles you use to wash, the scent of the soap, and the feeling of bubbles between your fingers. Rather than multitasking or hurrying up this task to get on to the next one, appreciate your current state of being.

Mindfulness can help those with major FOMO enjoy what they are doing in the here and now, instead of yearning for what else could be.

Sum Up.
Here’s where FOMO comes from and how to beat it:
  • FOMO starts with sadness. 

  • Social media makes it worse, not better. Facebook isn’t evil — but relying on it for happiness is.

  • Happiness is about attention. Focus on the good and you will feel good.

  • Gratitude is essential. Imagine losing the things you’re lucky to have and you will appreciate them.

Social media isn’t the devil. But we’re wired to compare ourselves to others and you know where that leads on a medium where everyone is cutting corners to look their best. Facebook can help you be happy but don’t scroll and compare. Use it to plan face-to-face get togethers.

Forget the fake perfect lives of Facebook that lead to FOMO. Instead, try JOMO: the joy of missing out on all those illusions.

When you spend all that time staring in envy at the oh-so-cool pictures of cleverly crafted bliss on Facebook, keep one thing in mind:

It’s your life you’re missing out on.

Research for this document was discovered across many website on the subject.

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