Doom-scrolling. The fear of missing out. These modern-day plagues spread faster than the hottest TikTok dance video. Or the dancing baby meme, depending on how old you are.
Yes, FOMO. It’s that relentless itch that makes you feel like everyone else is having a blast while you’re just binge-watching Netflix in your pajamas. And if you think about it, it’s self-inflicted misery at its finest.
Think this is you? Here’s a lowdown on why we’re all sucked into this fear and how to give this annoying monster the boot.
What’s the Deal With It
You know that sinking feeling when you’re scrolling through Instagram, watching your pals party it up while you’re stuck at home with a tub of ice cream? That’s the fear of missing out.
It’s that gnawing sensation that everybody else is having a blast without you. FOMO is like the shitty friend that will go to lengths to make you sure you feel bad about yourself. And yet, as toxic of a relationship as it can be, you keep coming back for more.
So, why do we fall for this nonsense? Blame it on our brains, baby.
Our brains are hardwired for curiosity and social connection. Admit it, you’re inclined to know what everyone and anyone is up to, from their latest spring break trip to the ketchup fondue fountain from last night’s wedding party. This desire to stay in the loop has its downsides, though.
It kept us alive back in the day, when it was all mere fun and games. The honeymoon stage. Now, it’s the evil spouse in full form. You’re made to scroll through social media like zombies, and it’s getting us triggered in more ways than one. It makes us feel bad about our lives more often than not. Is that even fair?
Social Media’s Role In the Fear of Missing Out
Enter the digital devil, also known as social media. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are FOMO factories. They parade the highlight reels of people’s lives in front of our eyeballs, making us feel like we’re living a less fabulous life.
How many times have you felt miserable after seeing peers on a night out, as you wonder where the invite was? It can feel like a punch in the gut. But then again, why do you feel entitled for an invite?
Social media is now more addictive than a stick of Marlboro. Here’s a study that says so. Maybe now’s the time to cut down, at the very least? Save yourself the FOMO frustrations, for a change.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy
The more we compare ourselves to others, the more the fear of missing out creeps in. It’s a simple truth. When was the last time you felt good about seeing another person’s state of affairs and placing it side by side with what you have going on in your life? Better question: why would you?
Social media’s supposed goal of connecting everyone, anytime, anywhere. But that’s long gone. Nowadays, it’s a drug that we seem not to get enough of. And many of us crumble at its effects. Badly.
Remember, the grass is greener when you water it. Instead of watering your FOMO, let’s work on taming that beast.
How to Get Over Your Fear of Missing Out
We’ve dissected this FOMO monstrosity. Let’s talk about how to give it the boot. Now, this only works if you stick to them. There’s no half-assing allowed, unless you want mediocre results. Here’s your guide to FOMO detox:
Unplug and Reconnect with Reality
You won’t find the cure for the fear of missing out at the bottom of your Twitter feed. Put down your phone, step away from the screen, and reconnect with the real world. Look at what’s in front of you and take it in. Enjoy it. Savor it. You’ve taken it for granted way too much.
Your friends aren’t living their whole lives on Instagram, nor should you.
Set Boundaries And Adhere to Them
In FOMO, there’s no such thing as “just one more scroll.” Stop kidding yourself. You won’t have just one slice of Joe’s Pizza or a single piece of a Lay’s potato chip. Like the fiend that you are sometimes, you’re going for seconds.
Hence, the birth of the doom-scrolling phenomenon. And there’s a good chance that a lot of you reading this are submerged waist-deep without even knowing it.
Doom-scrolling in itself isn’t bad. It’s entertainment, a reprieve, a short getaway from your everyday problems. It’s a good way to pass time at the DMV. But like anything in life, excessive consumption will never render favorable results.
But it’s not a lost cause, don’t worry. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole of constant mindless scrolling, set clear boundaries for your screen time. Designate certain hours for social media and stick to them like your mental health depends on it (because it kind of does).
Instead of moping about what you don’t have or aren’t doing, count your blessings. Gratitude can turn your fear of missing out-induced frown upside down.
It’s Always Quality Over Quantity
You don’t need a thousand contacts on Facebook or a million followers on Instagram. Do you even know these people? Have you spent quality time with them? They’re likely mere statistics on your ‘friends’ list.
Focus on building meaningful connections with those who truly matter. Genuine bonds with real people in the real world. Quality over quantity, always.
Flip the script on FOMO and embrace the joy of missing Out. Put your phone down and be present and in the moment. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a quiet night in with a good book, a cup of tea, and no notifications.
Ask any of your older uncles, aunts, or those who’ve lived life, pre-digital age. You find out about last night’s impromptu strip poker during the water cooler conversations the next morning. Information moved at a much slower pace, but as they say, ignorance is goddamn bliss.
Curate Your Social Media Feed
Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. You already face countless pressures left and right. You don’t need your phone to add to that list.
Fill your feed with positivity, inspiration, and things that genuinely interest you.
Remind Yourself It’s Not Real
When the fear of missing out hits, remind yourself that social media is just a curated version of reality. Nobody’s life is as perfect as it seems online. No, he doesn’t own that Lambo. Yes, that’s a boob job (and a badly botched one that).
Idle hands are FOMO’s workshop. Stick with stuff you can experience. Start journaling or get into a new hobby that will make you forget — even just for a few moments — about what’s happening elsewhere.
FOMO is a tricky beast, but you can control it. Unplug, set boundaries, and embrace the joy of missing out. Your mental health will thank you, and you’ll discover that life is pretty damn fantastic when you stop comparing it to someone else’s highlight reel.
So put down your phone, close that Instagram tab, and start living on your own terms. It’s time to bid farewell to the Fear of Missing Out and say hello to the Joy of Missing Out.
And remember, you’re not missing out on anything by choosing happiness over comparison.