The expat’s fear of missing out
Last weekend I was sitting in a Starbucks in Barcelona and scrolling through my Facebook news feed, when I was hit by an intense blow of FOMO. My brain began to taunt me:
“But don’t you miss your life back home? I mean, look how much fun your friends are having. You could have been there too! Why did you move again?”
“Think about how many parties you have missed since you moved: birthdays, cocktail nights, weddings. So many inside jokes and not to mention job opportunities…”
No, seriously, shut up.
And suddenly I have this lump in my throat and I am trying really hard not to weep while I type one of many “I miss you” messages to my friends.
But what is “FOMO”?
FOMO (noun) – an acronym for fear of missing out; a state of anxiety associated with the idea that something fun and exciting is happening elsewhere.
How many times have you clicked ‘not attending’ on a Facebook event, only to find yourself checking out the pictures later on to find out what you have missed out on? On the reverse side, how many times have you felt the pressure to attend an event but in reality you would have preferred to have stayed at home?
The fear of missing out is often fuelled by social media. Our brain receives an overload of useless and trivial information, from party invitations and events to photos of food and babies. No wonder it can drive you a little crazy at times. Social media is a great tool to keep in touch, but why do we feel the need to publish everything that is happening in our lives?
We habitually tune into social media, without actually gaining much from it. It is easy to forget sometimes that we are in the middle of travelling or experiencing a new culture miles away from what is happening on Facebook. I know I am guilty of it too.
A recent study has linked the overuse of social media with depression, anxiety and even jealousy.
Unplug & detox
Put your phone on silent. Delete or hide your social media apps – or better yet, go a few days without them! Take deep breaths and spend some time outside – enjoy your surroundings. There are brilliant Chrome extensions like StayFocused that limit your time on social media.
“Life without Facebook is kind. I’d say that maybe there is a FOMO in not attempting a life without Facebook. Print off pictures of your loved ones and get an address book. Go on, I dare you! Recently, I completed a half marathon and I felt just fine not letting anybody witness the fitness on FB. If I am going to do something, I will do it in my own time. It is important to sort out what your goals are and I think Facebook can act as a distraction to your own ambitions. When you see that everyone is running backwards down the road whilst juggling buckets of KFC, you think ‘I must do that too!’ That is a fear of missing out on your own life, in itself.” – Elizabeth Katherine, Facebook sober for 4 months and counting.
Tackle FOMO before it tackles you!