FOMO in the Information Age


In today's digital era, often known as the Information or Computer Age, social media presents
a double-edged sword. Staying connected can feel essential, and the ever-growing Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) continues to evolve. Coined in the early 2000s, the term FOMO has surged in relevance as it becomes increasingly tied to emerging mental health concerns. As our global connectivity deepens, so too does the contrast between enriching experiences and the anxiety of potentially missing out. This can influence our mental well-being in profound ways.

Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword

We often hear terms like "Posts," "Likes," "Viral," and "Followers" dominate our conversations. There is an added pressure to showcase our best versions, post aesthetically pleasing pics/videos to boost the likes and followers. This shift has developed the urge to be present in social media platforms to have a constant connectivity. While we get entertained, or sometimes even a career out of these platforms like Youtube, this relentless connection can have a downside. It often traps us in a cycle of comparison, leading to feelings of envy and an eroding sense of self-worth.

Understanding FOMO

FOMO, or the "Fear of Missing Out," occurs when people feel they are missing out onenjoyable experiences, parties, friendships, job opportunities, and relationships that others are engaged in. It's more than just feeling left out—it can lead to chronic stress, disrupt sleep, affect eating habits, and increase dependency on digital devices. This phenomenon affects people of all ages who frequently use social media.

Combating FOMO

Learning to be present in the moment can significantly reduce the tendency to overthink. Implementing good mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises, is a key strategy for combating this. These practices help you focus on the here and now, decreasing worries about what you might be missing. A digital detox, which involves periodically stepping away from digital devices, can also help mitigate the urge to constantly check social media. This break from digital input allows your mind to reset, leading to lower stress levels and reducing your dependence on online validation.

Realistic social media engagement is another effective approach. By curating your social media feeds to follow pages and posts that add real value to your life—whether educational, inspirational, or genuinely entertaining—you can significantly reduce feelings of FOMO. This method helps shift your perspective on social media from a source of anxiety to a tool for positive input.

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Send tips or suggestions to Author: Neerajha Rabindranath, student studying Computer Science and Information Systems, at the University of Limerick.