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Ever heard that your friends are going out only to be filled with sudden anxiety because you can’t join them? In fact, you get anxious all the time about things other people do that you’re not doing too. You fear missing out.
You have what’s popularly been called FOMO, or the fear of missing out. If you’re not sure what this looks like, you can find these common real-world examples in your own life (or the lives of those around you).
Considering these examples, it’s also clear how FOMO impacts life negatively. But, there is hope, and this article will explain how to get over each FOMO MOMO (aka fear of missing out moment).
What is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?
The fear of missing out is a real condition of social anxiety that some of us suffer from each day. At its worst, you become anxious when something is happening and you’re not a part of it.
That “something” can be anything from feeling anxious because your neighbor has bought a new car (and you can’t afford one) to hearing your friends are going on a weekend trip (while you have to stay home).
When you have FOMO, you become obsessed with the lives of others and events that don’t involve you. These events are outside of your control, but you end up thinking about the event or the things you’re not a part of, and you feel insecure, threatened, and like you’ve lost out on a massive chance.
You experience a real sense of lack, which triggers a primal fear.
Even if your friends say that they will take you with them for the next fishing trip, it’s not this fishing trip, right? Therefore, you feel anxious, neglected, and not good enough.
Worse still, you may even procrastinate about future trips you are going to miss out on, since you’re not “good enough” to go on this trip. And your mind will continue running off with “what ifs” that can drive you crazy.
Ironically, your mind is running in circles over something that’s not even true. You don’t know the what, why, and how of everything.
Seeing images of your neighbor having a holiday in Baha may look amazing on social media, making you anxious that you’ll never get a holiday; but, did you know they were sea-sick for most of the cruise or that your neighbor saw his wife cheat on him with the seaman?
What you fear missing out on is the idea of something. It’s about your fear that you won’t have enough and it all boils down to a very primitive instinct of resource guarding.
The caveman or cavewoman in you is sitting there feeling very envious of the neighboring clan’s painted tents, and fears your tents won’t be as nice and won’t keep you as warm in the winter.
If you let it, the fear of missing out can escalate into sheer nightmare terror, and eventually, you become nasty, attacking what you believe you lack.
So you pick fights with your friends, since they didn’t invite you to go fishing (even though they knew you weren’t available) or slander your neighbors out of jealousy of their holiday.
Your psychosis deepens, and it becomes a real “loony town” of fallacious beliefs, and FOMO becomes a habit you need to break.
What Causes FOMO?
FOMO is a relatively new concept in psychology (coined in 1996 by Dr. Dan Herman), and with the rapid rise in social media usage and the internet, it’s definitely worsened. We are surrounded by perfect imagery of people who “have it all,” which leads to us fearing we don’t have enough (and we won’t ever have enough).
That fear makes you say yes to dates with guys you shouldn’t (and wouldn’t normally) touch with a barge pole, while it can also make you agree to attend parties or social gatherings even when you know you don’t want to and have other plans.
In extreme cases, you may spend money you don’t have on things you don’t want because others have those things.
Your fear of missing out can become so bad that your thoughts are consumed by the things you don’t have, but believe you should have, which causes stress and leads to you not being able to do your daily work.
Ultimately, there are a few specific causes of FOMO, and you may be surprised to learn that it’s often triggered intentionally to coerce you into doing as expected by marketing teams.
Marketing teams use “lack” tactics to help drive sales through FOMO. They make people feel like they have such a shortage if they don’t buy a certain product or subscribe to a service—triggering FOMO, so you will respond with a fear-based response that drives you into the sales funnel.
The people around you can also cause FOMO to strike. By being focused on meeting the standards of your culture and society, you can begin to suffer from FOMO. You may feel inadequate with only a handful of friends, which can cause you to “friend” everyone you can, neglecting real friendships in favor of bulk and false popularity.
Ever seen people buy an expensive car just when they are about to lose their job? Fearing you will lack something can lead to FOMO buys. You spend money, resources, or time when you don’t have any to spare, since it is an act of self-soothing.
What are the Risks When You Suffer from FOMO?
You may wonder what the risks are of having FOMO run through your life, and the picture isn’t rainbow-colored at all. When you have been struggling with FOMO, you may experience the following risks.
Each of these risks can lead to serious disruption to your life. So, look out for:
FOMO may lead to excessive spending and you can end up in massive debt and have a serious lack hit you, such as losing your home or car due to repossession.
When you have a bad case of FOMO, you may find it so debilitating you won’t want to get out of bed. Your brain turns against you and your mind keeps creating scenarios that increase your stress.
Too much stress can lead to heart issues, a nervous break, and more.
Having FOMO leads to jealousy of others, especially of people close to you. Your relationships suffer, and soon, you become a social outcast—that nasty person nobody wants to share stuff with.
These days, it’s hard to get anyone away from their phones. Spending so much time online leads to us wanting what we see. You start to compare your own life with the life of those who have everything, and soon, you become envious.
Fearing you will miss out, you may even engage in behavior that could end up leaving you with long-term challenges. Risky sexual behavior such as one-night stands can leave you with STDs, unwanted pregnancies, missing kidneys, and more if you do so because you fear you will miss out on something by not opting in.
FOMO is prevalent in all spheres of life, and if you’re not alert to it, you can quickly become a victim, losing authenticity, and falling into the trap of wanting to “have it all.”
11 Fear of Missing Out Examples from the Real World
Perhaps a closer look at examples from the real world can help you better identify and choose the battles against FOMO in your life.
1. Going to Parties You Don’t Want to Attend
It’s so easy to have a friend say you need to join them for a party when you really don’t want to go, but you go because you fear missing out. You may have better things to do, but when you are invited (and even if you’re not invited) fears fill your mind:
If you don’t go, you will be the odd one out. If you don’t go, you won’t know what everyone else is talking about on Monday at school or work. Not going now means not being invited next time.
Of course, these fears are illogical. Instead, they all boil down to not wanting to miss out. You don’t want to have an experience pass you by. Fear of regret leads to doing things you don’t want to (which, ironically, causes regret later).
Avoid this FOMO: Do a simple SWOT analysis or practice critical thinking to help you determine whether it’s in your best interest to attend a party.
List reasons to go versus reasons you don’t want to go. If you make a logical decision to attend, you are not giving in to social pressure or a fear of missing out.
2. Feeling Pressured to Buy a New Car
There’s something amazing about that new car smell, and when your friends are all driving new cars, you may easily want to buy a new one too. Even though your current vehicle works just fine and your budget doesn’t allow for a new car, you may end up leaping off the cliff into massive debt just to keep up and not “fall behind.”
Avoid this FOMO: Stick to your budget. You can reevaluate your budget to help you decide whether the savings on fuel economy and more will help cover the costs of purchasing a new vehicle. Just ‘coz it’s on special doesn’t mean you need to buy it now.
Run your reasoning past someone you trust to be logical, and let them help you manage your “cravings” with logical reason.
3. Binge Watching a New Show Because Everyone Is Talking About It
“OMG, have you watched the new season of Queen Charlotte?” Your friends are all talking about it. And since you were busy with exams or a project for work, you didn’t watch it. Instead of shrugging and watching it later when you have time, you binge watch it so you can also talk about it with the in-group.
Avoid this FOMO: While watching a few hours of a show is fairly harmless in itself, you have given in to FOMO, and it will continue breeding in your life, creating other moments of FOMO.
Instead, choose to watch one episode of the show every night to catch up, without feeling pressured to watch all the episodes now. After all, there are better things than watching TV (or binge-watching).
4. Not Getting Jobs like Your Friends
When your friends have “cool” jobs, you can feel pressured to leave your current job for a risky leap to a different line of work or at a different company. Your FOMO is all about not wanting to lose out on the career trajectory your friends have.
Avoid this FOMO: Have a clear career path in mind, evaluate what your opportunities are, and consult with a talent recruiter before you jump ship.
5. Going to the Same College as Your Friends
Fearing you will be left behind or that you are making a bad career decision, you follow your friends to college, even studying the same degree as them. Your interests are based on your friends, not on the actual field of study. You believe they know best, so you follow because of FOMO.
Avoid this FOMO: Go for career counseling. Attend different career shows and find out what excites you. Do this on your own, so your friends’ opinions won’t influence you.
6. Your Friends Go to a New Club without You, So You Go the Next Day
We are herd animals, and it’s a common fear of being left behind that drives you to do what everyone else does. If your friends have gone clubbing, you want to club too, even if you don’t like clubbing and don’t have time now to go out.
Avoid this FOMO: If you have time, engage in a different hobby for entertainment. Don’t feel like you’re missing out because you’re not doing the same thing as them.
7. Feeling Depressed Because You Can’t Get Tickets to the Game on Sunday
Your favorite game is this Sunday. You can’t get tickets. Naturally, you feel depressed. However, if you feel upset because everyone is going (except you), then you have FOMO.
Avoid this FOMO: Watch the game on TV, making it special at home with your favorite snacks and pre-game entertainment. You don’t have to go where everyone goes to enjoy life.
8. Feeling Jealous When People Talk About Their Holiday Which You Didn’t Go on
Jealousy is an ugly characteristic of FOMO. You feel jealous because someone has something you don’t have. Like a dog growling at another dog over a bone, you feel upset with the person, even though that person didn’t do anything wrong.
If you feel jealous over your friends’ holiday, you have FOMO.
Avoid this FOMO: Force yourself to use encouraging language when you compliment them on their holiday. Keep a journal to process your feelings about it, and if you feel you need a holiday too, plan one for a few months in the future.
Don’t have a knee-jerk reaction and go on holiday (which you probably can’t afford) now.
9. Rushing Out to Make Use of a Sale Before It Closes
“Sale! Discount! On promotion! Half price!” Oh, how we love these sales tactics. When you see a bright banner with a few words on it, encouraging you to go see and shop and spend, you are falling straight into FOMO.
Avoid this FOMO: Think before you shop. Do you need something right now? Do you have money to spend now (never mind that the item is half price)? If your answer is no, then you shouldn’t buy or go to any sales events.
In fact, don’t even read promotional emails or notices, and then you won’t be tempted. You are not missing out.
10. Constantly Taking Selfies Wherever You Go
We live in a selfie-ish world. Everywhere people go, whatever they are doing, no matter who they are with, it’s always an opportunity for a selfie. But this is also about having “evidence” of your experiences, forgetting that experiences are there to enjoy, not prove. FOMO makes you take selfies all the time—and they have to be perfect, right?
Avoid this FOMO: Start limiting how many selfies you take of events. Only take one or two, then put your phone away and enjoy with your human senses; otherwise, you really will be missing out.
11. Having Sex With Different or Multiple Partners Each Night
In a sexually liberated era, singles often feel entitled to sexual kicks wherever they can get them. It’s quite common to go to singles bars or restaurants and pick up your entertainment for the night because you have been indoctrinated into doing so by popular media that’s over-sexified.
Magazines tell you just what you are missing out on, that you should be brave and try different sexual positions and partners, and that if you don’t, you are missing out. So you do it, even though you feel nothing for your casual partners because you don’t want to miss on something.
Avoid this FOMO: If you’ve been dipping into the dating pool almost obsessively, try going single for a bit. Self-partner, letting yourself have time to invest in yourself and engage in self-care instead.
How to Handle the Fear of Missing Out
The anxiety you might experience with FOMO can hold you back in your personal and professional life. So if you feel like you frequently experience FOMO, watch the video below to learn the 7 ways to reduce the fears about not having all of the experiences that other people have.
Final Thoughts on Fear of Missing Out Examples
We live in a world where fear of missing out examples are everywhere. FOMO is often so insidious that we don’t easily identify the triggers.
Surely nothing is wrong with wanting to get a bargain on sale? Perhaps it’s okay to simply go to college with your friends (at least you are studying, right?), or you take home any available partner so you won’t miss out and feel lonely?
The main problem with all these examples of FOMO is that you sacrifice your better judgment and give up on what you really want. Only by really knowing yourself and having self-awareness can you really beat FOMO and live a life of informed decision making.
Need a little more help? Then be sure to read our guide on journal and diary apps for tracking your thoughts to help you identify FOMO in your life.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.