The Curse of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

We are blessed to live in an age of technology, where we have access to more information and better communication than ever. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we have the world at our fingertips. With this, we can learn a new skill, start a business or communicate with friends and family on a different continent. As with everything else, though, there is a downside of which we must be aware. Trolling, cyber-bullying and identity theft are big problems, but we can protect ourselves by being careful about what we share online and with whom. There is another, less sinister, element which our digitally-connected age has given rise to, and that is FOMO. Even though it may appear harmless, it is doing an awful lot of damage to the hopes, dreams and goals of an awful lot of people. It’s time to do something about it.

Fear Of Missing Out, to give it its full name, is nothing new but it has intensified in recent years. Whether it’s the latest series on Netflix, a particular holiday destination or the latest fashion trend on social media, we all feel compelled to get involved because everyone else seems to be. If we don’t, we get left behind. People are terrified that something notable will happen, and they won’t be present to notice it. Clever marketers and salespeople prey on this fear to keep us coming back for more. There is also a fear that if we don’t keep up with our friends and peers, they will stop talking to us as we won’t be able to relate to them.

So, time that could and should be spent working on ourselves and our goals is given over to social media and television addiction. At its worst, it can bring your journey towards your goals to a screeching halt as you stop focusing on them. Even worse is the potential loss of individuality, and who you really are, because you are so busy trying to be like everybody else.

Before getting caught up in this trap, determine if it really is important at all. Ask yourself 2 questions:

  • What is the worst that can happen if I don’t update my wardrobe, watch that film or spend my evening on Facebook?
  • What is more important, the goals which I have set for myself or this thing which I don’t want to miss out on?

Two simple questions, which will help you to gain perspective as soon as you ask them. Nothing is more important than the goals which you set for yourself, as these determine the type of person you could become and what you could achieve if you put the work in. You need to prioritise yourself, and make the decisions which are in your best interest. Often these decisions mean missing out on what others are doing, but does that even matter? If, for example, you miss the latest episode of Law and Order, the world will still turn and life will carry on. You can catch up later, when you have the free time.

Choosing your own goals over the latest trend is something to be proud of. It shows discipline and self-love, because you have invested that time in something which will have a positive impact on your life, instead of some entertainment. Of course, entertainment, hobbies and interests are important, but not as important as your life and the direction you want it to take.

Fear of missing out is nothing to fear at all. In reality, it means nothing. So what if you haven’t seen the latest series of Game of Thrones because you have been too busy launching a business or studying?! There are only so many hours in a day and you have chosen to spend them on what is important to you. You can always buy the dvd or record the series to watch in your own time, after you’ve taken care of what really matters.

If there is anything to be feared, it shouldn’t be that you’re missing out on something irrelevant which won’t add value to your life. Instead, fear being a carbon copy of everyone else. Fear being average, when you know that you are capable of so much more if you put in the time and effort.

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