The fear of not being noticed (FOMO) can be described as an emotion reaction to the idea that others are living happier, healthier lives or that significant opportunities are not being taken advantage of.FOMO frequently leads to feelings of discontent, unease, anxiety and depression.The growth ofsocial mediahas increased the incidence of FOMO over the past few years.The data suggests that it is the most prevalent within the millennial population.
The social media industry and the other reasons for FOMO
The cause of FOMO is the feeling of fear that a thrilling experience or a significant opportunity is being lost or discarded.FOMO is caused by the amygdala – the brain’s part which detects if something poses dangerous to the survival of.This brain part senses that something is removed as a threat that causes anxiety and stress.One is more likely to suffer from FOMO if they’re already extremely sensitive to threats from the environment.This includes those who suffer from social anxiety, obsessional or compulsive behaviours that include diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder or some form of emotional trauma in their history.
smartphones along with social media platforms have increased the frequency of FOMO by creating situations where users always comparing themselves with the idealized ones they see on the internet.Apps and websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat allow users to be more easily than ever before to observe the actions of others.The media-driven life stories that are shared on social media such asInstagram Storiesor Facebook’s walls can alter a person’s perception of normality and leads them to believe that they’re not doing as well as their peers.People are able to look at other people’s experiences instead of looking inwardly at the positive things happening they have experienced in their own lives.
But, the stress and discontent created by FOMO can cause users to seek connections and interactions or intensify their efforts to stay on top of the latest news by visiting various social media websites more frequently.In either case, they are redirected back to social media, and create a negative circle.So, social media can be at the same time a source and an consequence of FOMO.
FOMO marketing is now being used as a method of entice customers to purchase certain items or to attend certain events.FOMO marketing stimulates the consumer’s anxiety about being left out to encourage them to act.A few FOMO methods of marketing are:
- displaying other buyers of the same products.
- The clock will count down to the time that the promotion is over;
- inducing competition by showing how many people are watching the deal
- Promoting experiences by displaying real evidence of how others are taking pleasure in the event or product.
Although FOMO marketing can be successful in convincing consumers to spend more, it can have negative effects on consumers as it triggers the anxiety and depression caused by FOMO.
The effects of FOMO
Some of the obvious consequences of FOMO include checking your phone during a movie or a concert, putting everything on social media, and being terrified at the thought of being stuck without a cell phone.Although these effects may not seem particularly detrimental, FOMO can also incite undesirable behaviors, such as texts when driving which could lead to fatal consequences.
The visible manifestations reflect the impact of FOMO on mental well-being.As we’ve mentioned anxiety, depression, fear and stress can manifest due to FOMO and also discontent with the way things are.Someone who is suffering from FOMO may also be continually pondering over the activities of others and thereby missing the moment of their own life.When someone is absorbed by the other people in their lives they have lost their sense of identity and cannot participate with the rest of society as an actual person.
But, it isn’t a mental health issue but rather an emotion caused by thoughts.The thoughts that trigger fear could result in a diagnosis.Thus, FOMO could be a indication of a more serious issue.
How to overcome FOMO
The first step in overcoming FOMO and enhancing your happiness in life is to know the nature of it and the source of it.Once FOMO is identified it is possible to take steps to eliminate it from the person’s life.A majority of the suggestions offered to people trying to get rid of FOMO involve taking a break from social media, and paying more attentive to the present moment as well as the people around and their environment.Being more present reduces the risk of being viewed by the amygdala. It also reduces anxiety and stress.
Other steps that can aid in easing FOMO are:
- Refocusing on the positive aspects of life instead of focusing on what’s lacking.This may include changing social media platforms so that more positive individuals are showing up on your feed rather than negative, or simply postings that bring joy.
- Maintaining a journal of enjoyable moments and memories instead of sharing everything to social networks.The journal’s purpose is to shift the focus away from public approval to a private appreciation of the good things in life.
- A gratitude journal will also help you focus your attention to the positive things that happen in life.It can also make it easier to feel satisfied and unworthy, as it prompts to realize that the world is already abundant with wonderful things.
- Finding genuine connections with friends face-to-face or one-on-one.Planning out a date with friends and going away from the home will give you a sense of belonging and ease the anxiety of being left out.A direct message to a person instead of an open post can make for a pleasant, intimate relationship that can increase the feeling of belonging and reduce anxiety.
The history of FOMO
FOMO was first analyzed in 1996 by the marketing analyst Dr. Dan Herman, but it’s likely to have been in use for centuries.The year was 2004 and Patrick McGinnis, a Harvard MBA student was the first to popularize the term after he wrote an article in The Harbus, the Harvard Business School students’ journal,The Harbuswhich was titled, “Social Theory at HBS McGinnis’s two FOs.”
At first, McGinnis had called the emotion FOBO (fear of a better alternative).McGinnis and his fellow students were aware that their friends were having a difficult time committing to plans, and they blamed this to a greater awareness of mortality and the desire to live fully was common during the time following the 9/11 attacks.But, he and his group of friends realized that the problem wasn’t so about the anxiety of having to settle for something that may not be the most ideal, but rather an anxiety about being left out of an exciting experience.
Since the time research has been influenced by and continued to be conducted on the subject.FOMO was included in major dictionary in the late 2010s, and was the most popular candidate in America Dialect Society’s word of the Year in 2011.
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