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-Alefiya Anis Rangoonwala

FOMO is an acronym, for fear of missing out. It is a new word for something that has afflicted humans forever.  It is not a new human experience; however, today’s society has more channels of than ever that foster this fear. Not all fears are a bad thing. When we understand and recognize it, it can guide us.

Everyone relates to being at a dinner with family or friends and being distracted because of the phone that is ringing in their pockets with texts or phone calls. Or something worse could happen, you are having a moment where you sit in complete and terrible uncomfortable silence as everyone around you has their heads down texting. So the fear of missing out keeps us from connecting with people but it does so much more than just that.

Can you imagine a day where from the moment you set foot out of bed, you were a blur of action, clothes on, breakfast for the road, rushing between meetings and meeting between phone calls and then when you finally decide to take a break to rest; but even when we try to rest we struggle with it. We feel like we need to do something or talking to someone or checking our phone. We are definitely struggling to look like we are sitting at a table drinking our coffee alone. The fear of missing out only disconnects us from people but it keeps us from enjoy the moment. Fear of missing out also impedes us from achieving our goals. At some point all of us have procrastinated on a goal. There are times where we know that we need to do something to make a deadline but instead we decide to do something else expediently like hanging out with friends or watch a game. Invariably in one these nights we have a moment where we realize that we have made a terrible mistake. Then you have a huge pit of stress in your stomach. And then you cannot enjoy anything. All you think about are all those things you should have been doing and the terrible thought of failure. From that point on your get distracted from your friends, you can’t enjoy where you are and you are under achieving your goals.

Keys to being happy are commitment and accomplishment. There is a limit on how much we can connect and when we over connect we feel the strain. Studies show that overuse of social media and cell phones is corelated to higher anxiety and lower performance. A perceived obligation to have a complete and constantly updated social media representation of ourselves can cause stress. And a text from our friends, a couple missed calls from co-workers, e-mails from everyone and a couple of voice notes from people can cause stress.

It is pretty to fix. If you are committed to being at dinner with family, working on a project with somebody trying to rest, turn off distracting technologies. Doing this will help, but will not solve the problem. Because technology is not the reason why we experience fear of missing out. It is just a medium for it. We use technology to cope, like doing things like changing our Facebook profile picture or text distant friends saying –“hey how you doing?”

The reason that we experience the fear of missing out  is our struggle to answer essential questions –“will I be remembered?”, “anything I accomplish be important to anyone?”,  “am I loved?” or “am I significant?” we just don’t know the answer to these questions , and that is the cause of fear of missing out.  But the great news is that you can never overcome the fear of missing out. It is not possible to get over this essential human fear. The fear of missing out compels us to do better, love more, achieve greater and to live more. The question that we shouldn’t be asking is how can I over come my fear of missing out. Rather we should be asking is ourselves is what is my fear telling me? When we understand the reason for why we are experiencing our fear it can guide us to a more fulfilling life. The fear of missing out is our natural alarm and we can use it to make better decisions. understand your fear of missing out and do what makes you happy.

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