It’s a Friday night, and you’re settling into bed with a tub of your favourite ice cream, ready to watch reruns of your favourite TV show and de-stress from the hectic week you’ve had. But before you can get lost in the world beyond your screen, you need to take a quick look at Instagram, just curious to see what everyone else is up to. The app comes to life, and you notice your friends have updated their stories. Once you click on the stories, you wish you hadn’t. It turns out that your friends have been spending their evening together…without you. An indescribable emotion consumes you; a mixture of anger, envy, hurt and insecurity. The symptoms are all there, and it looks like you are experiencing a case of serious F.O.M.O.
“Fear of Missing Out” A.K.A F.O.M.O, can be described as anxiety experienced when one believes that they will miss out on a fun time if they don’t attend a social event, or miss out on a positive experience. In addition, F.O.M.O can also be used to describe the unpleasant emotions felt when one does miss out on a social outing and is subjected to the torture of seeing all the pictures and videos of aforementioned event. I hate to admit it, but I am unfortunately no stranger to F.O.M.O. Regardless of how hard I try to be indifferent towards being left out or not invited, I always end up infuriatingly high-strung when I find out that “something” was taking place and I was not involved.
Personally, I think my F.O.M.O stems for a place of insecurity. One of the qualities about myself that I tend to not like, is that I care too much about what other people think of me. I always want to make sure that the people I surround myself with actually like me and genuinely enjoy my company. And so, when I’m kept out of the loop, my immediate insinuation is that I’m not wanted nor liked within my friendship group. Or perhaps, I’m so insignificant that they completely forgot to keep me updated and aware of outings and the like. It is definitely a pretty damaging thought process to have, and only serves to depreciate what little self-esteem I do have.
Some would say that I should let my friends know how I feel. After all, communication is key. However, I never have for fear of being labelled as petty. Sometimes, I wonder if I am just being petty and immature, allowing my insecurities to override reason. Yet, other times, I feel like my feelings are valid, and not at all inconsequential. At the end of the day, the question arises: is F.O.M.O something we should try to rid ourselves of entirely, or is it more or less acceptable so long as it doesn’t interfere with one’s relationships and mental health?