Last year, the Philippines was named the Social Media Capital of the world. With an average internet use of 3.7 hours a day solely for social media, that is hardly surprising. I began to wonder, as I saw myself as part of this statistic, what causes us to be so absorbed in social media? Was it FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out?
Though it definitely is a factor, our social media addiction stems from many other things alongside FOMO. People need connection. It’s been discovered that drug addiction is rampant when people lose the ability to connect with other people. Addiction then, of any kind, is a social disorder and not a substance disorder. While very few of us will admit to having a social media addiction, many more will at least admit to having FOMO.
It seems FOMO comes from the fear of not making the right choice as to where and how we spend our time. This tells me that FOMO comes from our lack of confidence in our own decisions, to the point that we second guess ourselves and thus, trade off enjoying where we are for worrying about where we aren’t.
We all laugh about it in ourselves and poke fun at our friends for it, but that only keeps it at arm’s length and allows it to become a well-established reflexive FOMO mentality, one that gets hard to shake off.
The cons of FOMO are clear: increased social media use (ergo, less time for other things), dissociation from oneself and one’s current setting and the attribution of one’s source of happiness as coming from some outside force.
As everything has two sides, I tried to figure out what the pros of having FOMO are. Instead of trying to suppress it or get rid of it, as the traditional aggressive male-dominant culture loves to do, the idea of acknowledging it and reflecting on it from different angles appealed to me. The takeaway: having FOMO reminds me to enjoy the moment wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, with whoever I’m with. The magic in an altered perspective can turn any source of anguish or anxiety into an agent of positive change.
So don’t try to lessen your FOMO-ness, but embrace it and use it as a reminder to look at how perfectly happy you are right now – how good it is to breathe, smile, laugh and fool around, even and especially when nobody’s watching.