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FOMO - Fear of Missing Out!

Fear of missing out is a very 21st century malaise, in part driven by social networking and just how connected to everyone else’s lives we are.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more have given us a 24/7 view of our colleagues, friends and families lives and it doesn’t always make for comfortable viewing. Rather than enjoying the moment of what we are doing, we are constantly bombarded by other people’s holiday photos, pop concert attendance, weddings, parties, and picnics – just about every significant and not so significant event in our myriad of friend’s lives.

Despite having perhaps chosen to not attend such events in favour of relaxing at home, having some time to yourself or with your loved one, you can’t help but compare how your day is going with that of others. This causes much anxiety and the belief that everyone is having a better time than you. And of course if you weren’t invited to an event, then this causes a whole other case of unease…

The danger with all of this checking is that we are never really living in the moment: instead of enjoying a fantastic meal and savouring every aspect – the restaurant service, the ambiance, the smell, look and taste of the food – we are busy photographing it and getting it on to every social platform known to man. Whilst on the phone to a friend, we are busy checking for Facebook and Twitter updates, when watching TV we are still checking email and so it goes on.

Several things are occurring as a result of these activates – some people go one way and accept every invitation that comes their way, often staying for short periods of time at any one event in order to fit in the next. Others are going nowhere as they have put off saying yes to something, just in case something better comes along!

I suppose this is the modern day equivalent of ‘keeping up with Jones’s’, but the problem is this is making us ill – stress, anxiety, headaches and lack of sleep (from the blue light that devices omit) to name a few.

The irony of it all is that all of this connectedness is actually disconnecting us from reality and real relationships – quality time spent focusing on one thing or one person.

In anything in life it is easy to imagine the grass is greener, but in many cases social networking sites put a distorted view across of other people’s lives. It is natural that we would only want to put our best foot forward on-line, and apps and technology have helped us along the way – Instagram has lots of lovely filters so we can look better in photos for example. The fact is that no one really knows what another person’s life really looks and feels like. Someone might post photos of their dream holiday, but you may not realise that they spent most of the time dreading going back to work because they hate their jobs. A new baby photo may appear – probably omitting the 26 hour labour to get the new-born in to the world. The person that posts pictures of the amazing party that they were at, when in reality they had a rubbish week, and would quite happily have sat in front of the TV with a takeaway and a box-set!

The moral of the story is to borrow from another modern term – YOLO; you only live once, so use your time wisely! Use social networking sites for positive effect, to catch up with people far away that you cannot see, to make real life appointments to see friends and family face to face. Then when you are actually doing something, whether it be mundane or mind-blowing, be mindful and keep in the moment. Don’t let the excitement of life pass you by in a technology whorl.