I'm betting that like me, you might have some experience with the feeling of being left out.
The ache in your stomach.
The feeling of having missed out.
That sense that somehow this means people don't like you.
That somehow you don't run with the cool crowd anymore.
And you didn't even know you cared about being cool or liked until the missed event greeted you with it.
When I was growing up in the days of VCRs (if you were lucky), answering machines and computers that were only used in a lab at school, fear of missing out was definitely a thing. But back then it didn't have it's nifty acronym or linger long. Going to school the day after the big party you missed felt awful sure but the feeling went away soon.
Maybe you made a desperate attempt to assert your likability. In those days you might have thrown a killer party. The modern counterpart might look something like jumping into the tweet storm – a vain attempt to not miss out.
This feeling is commonly known these days as FOMO — Fear of Missing out. According to this study, 56% of social media users have experienced FOMO. Sometimes it's instigated by an uber cool party you missed. Perhaps it's a former acquaintance who always used to return your tweets but there's only tweet silence on their end. Maybe you're like me, feeling left out when reading the announcement of a startup securing a massive exit — specially when it was an idea that you had but somehow just never got around to doing yourself.
In an era of always on social media, FOMO can be a pretty persistent problem. If you're like me, it can mushroom to a daily or even hourly feeling if left unchecked.
So, What To Do About FOMO?
One day a while back a friend and I were both suffering from severe FOMO. Both Twitter induced. He, from the launch announcement of a startup he was involved with in the early stages. My FOMO incendiary moment was discovering a couple of acquaintances (who I hadn't talked to in a year or more) unfollowed me on Twitter. I admit it, I wondered what I did wrong for a couple of minutes. I probably, maybe thought about launching a campaign to win them back. Then I realized the stupidity of these thoughts. Instead of worrying and trying to be cool I could just stop whining and go do something interesting. It actually worked.
There are loads of problems that take complex solutions. Or at least a multitude of steps to correct. The solution for FOMO is actually relatively simple.
Three steps to navigating FOMO
1. Time box it. Sob into your latte for 5 minutes.
2. Take a social media break for at least an hour.
3. Then stop complaining. Go be awesome.
Creating an awesome product, blog post, work of art or even an animated gif is the surest way to cure you of FOMO. Why? Being super engaged in your life, doing what makes you lose track of time renders FOMO irrelevant.
Every time the FOMO siren lures you to the rocks — rinse and repeat these three steps over and over again until you've steered your way towards something productive.
The bonus to this plan is that you're bound to be much happier too. Way better than wallowing right?