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Fear of Missing Out

Have you ever felt that you are not spending your life as it is supposed to be as a teenager/adult? 

Have you ever been troubled wondering that your friends and people around are having more fun and are in better places than you? 

Do you feel that time is slipping out of your hands and you are missing the most of it? 

Maximum of the times, we open our social media and find people’s posts/stories on how successfully and adventurously they are spending their everyday lives, we find questioning ourselves all of these.

This inculcates in us a feeling or a thought that we are missing out on the most important charms of life and that we shall be at some other place at the moment. This thought grows into a ‘fear’- Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). This phenomenon evokes envy and anxiety of the thought that our lives, this moment, should have been better and that we are missing on the best and the most vitals of lives. 

Have you noticed criticising yourself when you hear your friend has been promoted at their job? Or felt happy when someone has fallen off their goal a bit? We start comparing our lows to people’s highs and upset ourselves. As a defence mechanism, we end up enjoying pleasure from others’ failures. The root cause of the feeling arises from social comparison. We tend to believe and fall into the hands of what we see on social platforms. However, as netizens shall understand that everything in the world has a filter and nobody showcases the ground reality of life. Social networking sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook have tremendously given birth to social comparison in all dimensions which is another major contributor to FOMO. These tendencies have been viable and in fashion since the onset of social media and life being showcased on virtual screens. The onset of which can be unsurprisingly traced to the launch of Facebook in 2004. In the same year, the first academic paper was published by a Harvard Business School student, Patrick Mcginnis. This was originally a light-hearted story for the school newspaper, later which made him notice this perception among students. This was how FOMO became a recognized situation.

Seemingly small and just a casual mood swing of feeling, FOMO can have extensive consequences. The greater deal is to recognise and differentiate this feeling from any other form of social media anxiety, stress from a monotonous schedule or just a craved want. This anxiety and increased worry about what others are doing causes a teen to miss the essentials of his/her life even more. Their focus solely nucleates on others’ lives which makes them completely forgetful to live their own lives and thus, accelerating the fear. A study suggests that one-third of Facebook users felt worse while viewing somebody else’s vacation photos. The more they used Facebook, the worse they felt. A survey conducted by National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia found out that 60 per cent of teens said they were more apprehensive and troubled on finding out that their friends were having more fun without them at the moment. Moreover, 51 per cent said that felt anxious when they did not know what their family and friends were doing currently.

Adding on, the survey also presents a real and direct correlation between the number of hours spend digitally and the level of stress and depression. According to the research of Project Know, teens felt pressured to use drugs/ alcohol to keep up with the trend and notion of coolness as regarded by celebrities or friends they follow on social media sites. They had a low level of satisfaction with their lives which made them a predator for other mental health issues as well.


  1. Tracking Negative Thoughts: Journaling negative thoughts will help understand the pattern of pessimistic feelings along with the thought or situation triggering it and track the frequency of occurrence. This would also help us to analyse the required change of perceptions.   

  2. Digital Detox: Scheduling time off technology enables one to be present at the moment. This, however, would not completely eradicate the feeling but help to slow down and focus on better activities. Reading a book, exercising, baking or going out for a walk will divert their focus onto better things. 

  3. Being Realistic: The fact that one person cannot be at two places at one time is natural. Being present in the moment is to live fully and not feeling sorry for missing events. Not over planning the future or dwelling on the past comforts the appreciation of present and reality.

  4. Take One Thing At A Time: Slow down, do not overdo. Life is meant to be cherished and lived to the bits than rushing with the spirit of doing a couple of things altogether. Despite multitasking, pick one thing at a time to enhance the effectiveness and help focus precisely. Inculcating this in the schedule will help calm down and be satisfied much more with what they already own.  

  5. Practice Gratitude: Life has given all that is vital for living with abundance and joy. Being able and free of fatalities should be cherished. One shall be thankful for what we have in life than stressing for what we don’t which is essential for curing the perception of missing out in things.

by - Dikshita Choudhary

graphic by - Niharika Suri

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Delhi, India

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