Fear of missing out, or the need to constantly stay connected, keep updated on social media, and the 24/7 cycle of being in the know of things is collectively known to peak our stress levels and narrow our attention span.
Fear of missing out or FOMO can be best described as the social anxiety that other people are having fun without you. This impacts people of all ages.
While social media is a boon to the digital age and society in present day and age, the negative effects of social media and round-the-clock notifications on our devices has caused a depletion of our collective peace of mind, attention span and more.
However, according to a recent study by Washington State University researchers published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, it wasn’t just an age-related factor but also aspects of self-perception such as loneliness, low self-esteem, and low self-compassion, that have been found to be closely associated with FOMO.
“FOMO is not an adolescent or young adult problem, necessarily. It’s really about individual differences, irrespective of age. We expected FOMO to be higher in younger age groups, particularly because of the tremendous amount of social development happening at those times, but that’s not what we found,” said Chris Barry, a WSU psychology professor and the lead author on the study.
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While we’re all not equally prone to the Fear of Missing Out, but the ones who are, have more to lose via social media addiction. “Social media allows you to witness what other people are doing and what’s going on in their lives. If there’s already concern about missing out, then there will be distress at seeing that on social media,” said Professor Barry.
Digital detox, cutting off from social media and reducing the number of app notifications on devices can be helpful while looking for a solution from this kind of distress.
The researchers of this study also suggested that those who want to reduce their feelings of FOMO should try addressing their negative self-perceptions by practising more self-compassion, viewing personal setbacks as opportunities for growth, taking steps to reduce loneliness, and shifting focus away from the experiences of others.
“To do something about FOMO, individuals can foster a greater sense of real connectedness to others which will lessen feelings of isolation. You can also try being more in the moment, concentrating on what is in front of you as opposed to focusing on what else is going on out there,” Barry said.
FOMO is the countertrend of JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out). JOMO allows people to take a step back and analyse their priorities, reduce burnout and be content with what they have, in the moment. It is an important step towards practising mindfulness and disconnecting consciously.
The Collins dictionary in 2016 included JOMO in their words of the year list, along with ‘Brexit’ and ‘snowflake generation’.
— with ANI inputs
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