Anxiety, Loneliness & Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

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Between constant status updates and picture-perfect feeds online, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind. Anxiety can make it hard to pursue the things you want, but the fear of missing out can transform that anxiety into a source of shame and regret.

The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a term that was coined to describe the feeling that everything great is happening somewhere else, and you’re going to miss it by not being online. It can also get far more personal; seeing people getting into relationships, starting new jobs and moving up in the world can create the idea that our own lives are disappointing in comparison.

Failure Can Be Addictive

When you scroll through social media, seeing a post that you like causes your brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is also released when you post something and other people like it. Social networking sites rely on the rush of happiness and satisfaction to keep people hooked – but this is a double-edged sword.

When it seems like everything is happening online, going off-the-grid can cause anxiety. You may wind up in an endless loop of refreshing your feed and seeking attention instead of actually living.

The Irony of FOMO

The fear of missing out perpetuates a cycle of loneliness. You spend so much time worrying about seeing someone else do something, that you miss out on valuable opportunities in your own life. FOMO has been linked to lower life satisfaction and moods. The pervasive need to be “in the loop” leads to more isolation, which only fuels a continued sense of missing out and achieving things in life.

The Solution: Reaching Out

The most important step to breaking the cycle of FOMO is to admit the role it has in your life. Social media might make you feel bad about your life, but it can also become a way to avoid facing your anxiety head-on. Instead of taking a chance in the real world, people continue to focus on what they lack and sink deeper into a saddening but reliable sense of disappointment.

The best thing anyone who feels isolated by their anxiety can do is to reach out. Call your friends and make arrangements to hang out without checking social media. Start holding more conversations face-to-face, and do things that you don’t post about online.

Setting boundaries and using social media more consciously can help release the fear that your life is not measuring up to everyone else’s.