FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Leah Flanzman

Every college student or young adult has spent a Saturday night curled up on the couch in sweatpants with a pint of ice cream; scrolling through Instagram when they see their friends having the time of their lives out on the town.  At that moment, they are hit with a pang of regret on deciding to spend the night in.  Their mind immediately starts forming a million possibilities of jokes being formed and memories being made without them, and they instantly assume they are missing the greatest night ever.  This common phenomenon is called FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

In modern times, Millenials are connected to each other’s lives through their social media presence on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook.  It has become seemingly impossible to remain in the dark about your friend’s whereabouts, which is why FOMO is such an emerging issue.  If you remained in ignorant bliss about what everybody in your phone was up to, there would be no fear of missing out, as the seed of wonder would never be planted.  FOMO triggers the thought that you’re the only person in the world not living their best life in that moment, and can be extremely damaging to your mental health.

FOMO can also be present in a situation where you have to choose between two options, as you cannot be two different places at once.  Let’s say you were invited to Sally’s party and Billy’s party on the same day.  You choose to go to Sally’s party but while you’re there, you see a friend who went to Billy’s party having the best time on their Snapchat story.  This causes a buildup of anxiety from the thought that you could be having more fun if you had made a different decision.  FOMO causes people to develop the attitude that something bigger and better is always around the corner, which is an unproductive, unhealthy mindset.

If you or someone you know is struggling with FOMO that is leading to anxiety, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

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