FOMO, Online Narcissism, and the Bigger, Better Deal.

By Geisha Bar

Have you checked your Facebook lately? If so, then you will know that everybody is having the best life ever, except for you. Everyone else is a gourmet chef, a social butterfly at all the best parties, happily raising a new pet, or enjoying an exotic holiday. Feeling like a piece of shit? You likely suffer from some level of FOMO, or the “Fear Of Missing Out”.
According to Wikipedia, Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO), is a form of social anxiety — a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event. This is especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services. A study by Andrew Przybylski found that the condition was most common in those who had unsatisfied psychological needs such as wanting to be loved and respected.
FOMO can also be described as the fear that everyone else is having more fun, more excitement, and more rewarding, anecdote-worthy experiences than you. I recently noticed that friends who go on holiday seem to be continually uploading their pics to Facebook while on holiday, so that for the couple of weeks they are away, my newsfeed gets completely clogged with their holiday snaps along with their real-time schedule (“having drinks on a rooftop bar in Marrakesh! Living the dream!”). When I go on holiday, I prefer to switch my phone off and stay away from life back home (which in my opinion is the sole point of a holiday), saving the photo-uploading for when I get back home. I also do that so as not to bore the fuck out of all my acquaintances with yet another photo of me holding a cheap cocktail in a different country.
FOMO is very much boosted by the presence of online narcissism. While you may think that everybody else’s lives are amazing and exceptionally awesome, it’s important to remember that somebodys online persona is often total bullshit – in the sense that people choose which part of themselves to reveal to their Facebook acquaintances, and in doing so, create a very one-sided image of their actual lives to present to the world. If you think you might suffer from FOMO, it’s really important to remember that nobody is constantly on holiday, at exciting events, in the gym or cooking gourmet food. Keep in mind that you are seeing nothing but the highlight reels of people’s lives, and when everybody’s highlight reels are all shoved together in one place (ie Facebook), then it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the awesome shit that you are “missing out on”. Trust me, everybody else dicks around in their pyjamas, eating instant mashed potato most of the time as well.
The other downside of FOMO is that it leaves everybody constantly searching for the bigger, better deal. Facebook events are inundated with RSVPs of “maybe”, because people don’t like to commit to anything in case something bigger and better comes along. I personally think that a “maybe” RSVP without a good reason (ie an unsure work schedule) is one of the rudest things ever. It tells the host “I will likely attend unless I get a better offer.” Another common rudeness is when you are spending time with somebody and they spend most of your interaction on their phone checking Facebook, because they are anxious that they could be missing out on something more important than spending time with you. So what if you find out that Ben Affleck is the new Batman a couple of hours after everyone else!? I don’t have time for that kind of shit and if anybody ever pays more attention to their phone than to what we are doing in the present, then they don’t get the luxury of my company again, plain and simple.
Forget about FOMO, don’t worry about what other people are doing, and just enjoy your life, it’s the best advice I can give you!