The phrase “fear of missing out” is so well-known that it has its own acronym: FOMO. Don’t fret if you hadn’t heard that before. You didn’t miss out on anything. Not really.
However, if you’re a person who hates to miss out on a great deal, pitches like “Time Limited Offer!” and “Don’t Miss Out!” can be irresistible. The marketing folks know that, you know.
But we don’t need marketers to feed our fears of missing out. If you’re spending much time exploring other people’s lives, you may be doing it to yourself. How so? If you approach your exploration from a “missing out” mindset, what are you likely to see?
Other people have nice stuff, they go on great vacations, they have perfect children, fantastic careers, beautiful spouses. You name it—if you look hard enough, you’ll find someone who has something that’s more desirable than what you have.
Does it matter? Well, there’s the rub, isn’t it?
Whether you believe FOMO affects you or not, I’ll offer these observations from a choice theory perspective.
On the one hand, staying connected with others helps to satisfy our need for love and belonging. And it can feel like we are connecting with people when we are tied to our phones or social media. Besides, it’s certainly true that connecting electronically is better than not connecting at all.
However, if you find that you are feeling worse, rather than better, when making connections of this sort, consider becoming more proactive about the influences you allow into your life.
Social media—Facebook and the others—are helpful in some ways, but not in every way. People tend to post their highlights, successes, happy times, even their great meals. While there may be the occasional sharing of dull moments, it’s reasonable that folks prefer to display their triumphs rather than their failures.
Recognize that what you see are snapshots—the parts someone wants to display. A full life has ups and downs. Sometimes it’s exciting, other times boring. Some days are enviable, others pitiable. When we look at someone’s life, we see it through a filter. The true picture may be better than what we see. Or, it could be worse.
Every moment of our lives, we are doing something. That means we are not doing other things that we could be doing instead. We are missing out. That time we spend concentrating on someone else’s life is time not spent by focusing on our own.
Think about what you really want; what matters to you. What thoughts and actions will bring you more of what you want and less of what you don’t? For example, if you want a better connection with someone, consider what action you could take. If you want more security, what can you do to achieve it? If you want to be less anxious, less angry or less isolated, what can you do to move you in that direction?
We have choices. Perhaps not perfect choices, but we have choices. The TV can be turned off and replaced with sounds that bring us joy, whether it’s music, nature, or laughter. Time spent with critical, envious people can be reduced, replaced by time spent with uplifting, supportive people. Observing other people’s lives can be replaced by doing real activities in our own lives. When we are living our lives, we are not missing out.
Do you have any FOMO?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom