“There’s so much going on, there’s a lot of information about different events I want to go to. Every day when I log into my page, I see newer and newer pop-ups, but I can’t go to all of them. I feel like I’m going to miss the coolest event or that I’m going to pick the wrong one. And then I’ll look at the hundreds of stories that will make me feel bad. You could really say I’m a FoMie and that my fear of missing out may not be because of social media, but it’s definitely supported by it. Sometimes the vast amount of information available can be unhealthy for us because of its addictive characteristics.”

  1. S.

„My fear of missing out dates back to when I was 13 years old, which isn’t surprising considering I’m from the tech-obsessed generation. I guess I just like to be everywhere, at all times. Physically, mentally, virtually. If I don’t know what’s going on up-to-the-minute in pop culture or I’m not invited to a party or my friends check-in to fun places I can’t be at on Facebook, I just don’t know what to do except check social media every two minutes. Just the other day I had an instance of a heightened anxiety attack due to my fear. I was having a great meet-up with my friends but at the same time I was missing all of my shows. The shows that sustain my social media life. The shows that grow my Twitter followers, the shows that allow me to post snarky Facebook statuses, thus getting more Facebook notifications. I began fussing and checking my phone to make sure I still had likes and comments streaming in. The balance between reality and virtual reality is really tricky.”

  1. K.

Maybe after reading these personal stories about the fear of missing out, you have recognized yourself at a spot or two, maybe you’ve felt this way as well. Don’t you worry! As you can see, you are not alone, and there certainly are ways to deal with this ever so prevalent fear of missing out (FoMO). In this article, you’ll have the opportunity to get a closer look at the true nature of FoMO, where it originates from and how we can find satisfaction offline.


What is the Fear of Missing Out and how it influences us?

The way we react to the media is intrinsic to humans. It’s just that our brains can get overloaded by all the information flying at us and confuse some media signals with those that our distant ancestors registered as crucial for survival. Fear of missing out or FoMO can be seen as just one wrong reaction of our information-burdened brains. This fear is characterized by the desire to be constantly connected and aware and is defined as the anxiety or intense worry that social events, gatherings, the latest gossip or news will be missed, which will automatically isolate the person, and this will be too painful. FoMO involves two processes: a sense of missed social opportunities followed by more or less impulsive behavior to maintain social connections.

The fear of missing out can come up when you don’t get invited to a party, you do get invited but can’t go, or when you don’t participate in the latest social media trends. Its manifestation can take the form of routinely checking your text messages, it can also look like instantly picking up the phone when you receive a notification or signing up for activities despite the possibility of burnout due to your full schedule.

You are likely to experience the fear not only as an episodic feeling, but also as a long-term attitude or state of mind that causes you to feel deeper social inferiority, loneliness, or intense anger. If you overload yourself with social events and activities to avoid FoMO, it can affect your sleep and eating habits, leading to fatigue and burnout, headaches, lack of motivation, and problems with performance at work or school. The occurrence of overly self-critical thoughts is also not uncommon, and they can also lead you to depressive states, which is highly undesirable.

Before moving onto the next segment, stop for a moment and think about how the fear of missing out affects you personally and what you would like to change.


Where does the fear of missing out come from?

It is natural for people to feel the need for socialization, interpersonal relationships and belonging to something bigger than themselves. It is this innate wish for connectedness and belonging, or rather the unfulfilled such, that is at the root of the fear of missing out. Another likely source of this fear is the drive to succeed, now measured on dubious scales. With just one click, you can find people who are supposedly doing better than you and become disillusioned with where you are at this moment, both career-wise and personally. But maybe the edited lives on social media aren’t the ones we should be taking examples from.

In short, our unhealthy attachment to media is our attempt to make up for experiences and emotions we lack, the success we have not achieved, and our attempt to save ourselves from loneliness. But maybe that’s not the best way…

How to find satisfaction offline and what is JoMO?

American cartoonist William Boyd Watterson II (and many others like him) was of the opinion that “if people sat outside every night and looked at the stars, they would live very differently”. It is most likely so. However, no one is going to make you sit under the stars every night and wonder why you ever listened to such silly advice. What you can do is accept your offline reality for what it is, enjoy and develop what you already have.

You don’t have to experience everything. It can even be quite beneficial to use some of your time to figure out what brings you real satisfaction in life, and what you want to do from now on. A quick ikigai wouldn’t hurt! The next step is to try to make a list of your interests that you would be happy to get into offline.

This way you will slowly develop the JoMO (Joy of Missing Out) mentality. Fear is replaced with joy, and our most precious resource – time – is reclaimed.

Feverishly posting photos, endlessly scrolling through Tik Tok and constantly checking social media aren’t the only ways we can get what we’re missing. Try living in the slow lane for a while! Spend more time with yourself and for yourself, perhaps with the stars as well … and find out what ideas you will come up with!