Is FOMO Real?

Wake up and check your phone. Eat a meal and check your phone. Get in bed and check your phone. Sound familiar? This endless cycle is known as FOMO, or the fear of missing out. The term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, and TIME Magazine describes it as “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you are missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.”

FOMO stems from low levels of satisfaction and from the fundamental needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Between wondering if everyone else is having more fun than you and not feeling great, you turn to social media to make yourself feel better, except checking Instagram and Facebook actually makes you feel worse. This sensation of missing out is the driving force behind social media addiction, for FOMO compels you to check your feed again and again in order to not feel left out of the loop.

Rather than displaying the full picture of people’s lives, social media only depicts the cherry-picked version; social media is not real life. This is where so many individuals fall trap to humanity’s deceiving game of perfection. In this cyclic pattern, we post to make ourselves feel better, which has the potential to make anyone else who sees it feel worse. Social comparison is destructive; repeatedly comparing your life to others’ lives that appear better leads to a negative emotional state and mentality. Those with FOMO pay less attention in school and are more likely to check their phones while driving. Attaining happiness is achievable, but people struggle when they wish to be happier than others since everyone presumes people to be happier than they are.

The condition is a form of social anxiety since individuals become apprehensive over missing out on bonding time with their social group. Social anxiety never disappears completely, but steps can be taken to improve mentality and focus on the characteristics of life that genuinely matter. Altering your state of mind can be achieved without any outside help.

Firstly, you must look inward. One tactic is to take the time to list the everyday people, objects, and activities you take for granted and image living without them. Mentally subtracting cherished qualities of life makes you appreciate them more. By focusing on the good, you will feel good.

Another approach is to come face-to-face with your FOMO; admit you have it. Consequently, you can purposely choose to turn off your phone and learn to go through your morning and nightly routines without constantly checking it.

Do not allow your FOMO to control you. You may end up missing out on your own life.


According to the Royal Society for Public Health survey of 1,500 teens and young adults, Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and well- being. Out of the five social networks included in the survey, YouTube received the highest marks for health and wellbeing and was the only site that received a positive net score. Twitter came in second, followed by Facebook, Snapchat, and then Instagram in last.

Technology Management Strategies:

Don’t allow cell phones at the dinner table

Unplug or take a digital detox periodically

Don’t allow devices during family time

Don’t allow devices during time with friends

Turn off notifications for social media apps

Limit time spent watching TV each day

Year Launched:

2002     LinkedIn, Friendster

2003     Blackberry Quark, Myspace

2004     Facebook, Flickr

2005     YouTube, Reddit

2006     Twitter

2007     iPhone, Tumblr

2007     Android OS/device

2009     WhatsApp

2010     iPad, Pinterest, Instagram

2011     Snapchat, Google+

Written by: Hope Hathcock


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