What is FOMO and how to prevent it?

Social networks represent a way of being connected with the world, however, the need for constant interaction and the fear of missing something cause FOMO. Find out the details in this article!

Last update: July 05, 2021

It is no secret to anyone that new technologies have turned the world into a hyper-connected place. Currently, the most notable events can be carried out online, using digital platforms. In this context, the FOMO appears and we explain what it is about.

Fear of missing out is an English-speaking expression that can be translated as "fear of missing something on social media". The acronym used to refer is FOMO. People with this phobia experience high levels of anxiety when they cannot connect.

Taking into account that it is an exaggerated and irrational fear about a harmless circumstance, the treatment that is usually used for these cases consists of exposure therapy. The idea is that patients internalize the fact that reducing the frequency of connection to the networks does not cause them any harm.

Origin of the FOMO

As we have already mentioned, this term refers to an expression in English that translates as the fear of being excluded from something important that happens on the internet. The person who coined this term was the Dr. Dan Herman (leader of the consulting network Think short).

The theory de Herman argues that the more alternatives a person has to be connected to the information they prefer, the more likely it is to occur. FOMO syndrome. This social phenomenon has been studied since the 1990s, when people had more access to the digital world.

Personality characteristics play a determining role in the development of the syndrome. For example, those who are obsessive in nature are more likely to be addicted to social media.

Hyperconnectivity generates the false feeling that if we are not on social networks we will miss out on many things.


Symptoms and related signs

The symptoms of FOMO are hyperconnectivity and the need to be taken into account within the digital environment. Such is the case of people who constantly share their private life in the social media in search of collective approval.

In this vein, some may experience anxiety when their expectations for care are not met. This is because, by not receiving a large amount of interaction on your posts, they feel displaced, as if they were left out.

In short, in order to establish that someone is presenting this syndrome, it is necessary to determine that there is a high frequency of publications on their social networks. The content must be of a personal nature and, in addition, the person will be affected when their publications are not taken into account.

Now we will see a list with some everyday situations that suggest the presence of compulsive behavior. It is important to learn to detect each of them:

  • Be constantly looking for updates and trends on social networks. This should happen even in working hours or study time.
  • Think frequently about when and how to share personal experiences. For example, going on vacation and prioritizing networking over actual experience.
  • Feeling of anguish when you cannot be connected to social networks. This could lead to some physical symptoms, such as headaches, tremors, or excessive sweating.
  • Disappointment when we see that our friends do not interact with the publications. It could also happen that we feel uncomfortable after seeing photos of an event to which we were not invited.

Causes and triggers of FOMO

It is important to clarify that, although a person is prone to experiencing the Fear of missing out, you will not necessarily have the syndrome. Namely, causes and triggers are multifactorial; the need for care, dissatisfaction with life and the use of social networks must coexist.

Next, we will examine in detail a list of the triggers of the fear of being left out of digital trends. As long as some of these situations exist, people could be affected by FOMO:

  • Low self-esteem issues: people who have low self-esteem often seek refuge in social networks. The explanation for this is that they feel safe behind the screens and can show an unreal life in search of approval.
  • Dysfunctional parenting styles: during adolescence is when you are more likely to misuse social networks. In cases where parenting styles are permissive, young people often incur hyperconnectivity.
  • Lack of purpose in life: when you do not have a defined direction, it is easy to get lost in the immediacy of social networks. People who don't set clear goals often need the fleeting satisfaction that digital interaction provides.

Possible consequences

Among the consequences of this fear are poor concentration, stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia problems. But in addition, also conflicts often occur at the interpersonal level. In other words, people are so focused on living a digital life that they neglect those around them.

Because of FOMO there are also physical problems. For example, frequent tension headaches from anxiety about missing something on social media.

Anxiety is accompanied by physical symptoms, such as headache.


How can it be overcome?

To overcome this fear it is important to change some of our priorities. In this sense, it is necessary to start with those things that give us satisfaction. We must be able to do an introspection exercise and see to what extent our happiness depends on events in social networks.

As we set proper priorities in life we ​​move away from hyperconnectivity. For example, It is advisable to prioritize short and medium-term projects. In this way, we will have a defined north.

Another important recommendation is based on the acceptance. When people are able to accept the circumstances of their existence as they are really happening and not as they expect them to be, the quality of life improves.

How to avoid FOMO?

Social media can be helpful as long as are understood as means to a specific end. For example, making good use of social networks would be to use them to publicize a business or undertaking. At the same time, we can use them as forms of entertainment, without falling into excess.

It is necessary to clarify that technology does not promote mental health problems. If there is a good education as a base, people should not be affected by the use of screens in their life.