Fear of Missing Out

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – is a thing. Who knew? Apparently it has even been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

checking phone
Let me check a few things first by Johnny Silvercloud courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/s8DNC2 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Are you suffering from FOMO?

Do you compulsively check your social media updates to see what your friends are up to?

  1. Do you feel compelled to join your work colleagues at every after work event?
  2. Do you over commit so as to attend every party/barbecue/impromptu get together?
  3. Do you check Rightmove and other property listing sites not because you have any intention of moving house but because you want to see what others have got?
  4. Do you binge watch the latest box sets so you know what everyone else is talking about?

If you answered yes to the above, chances are you are suffering from FOMO.

Wikipedia describes FOMO as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social angst is characterised by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.

Smartphones
Man Woman Smartphones Restaurant by David van der Mark courtesy Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/y6sdfD https://goo.gl/OOAQfn

Is it any wonder therefore that most of us feel exhausted most of the time?

Human beings are designed to have periods of action and periods of rest. If our rest time is dominated by our digital devices the quality of that rest time decreases. Whilst interacting on social media isn’t physically demanding, mentally and sometimes emotionally it can take its toll. Even if we are not aware of it our bodies will react to what we are reading, writing or seeing. Anger, frustration, joy and laughter all create a physical reaction. We have already put our bodies through a tough day. To then spend the evening and sometimes even the night too dancing the digital dance leaves us feeling over stimulated. Is it any wonder that so many people complain of not being able to sleep properly? Our minds are still wired and busily processing all of the images that have been teeming in front of our eyes.

We have reached the point societally where Mums ignore and do not interact with their children as much as they would have done in previous years because they are instead interacting with their phones. Couples are going out to dinner and checking their devices instead of actually talking to one another.

Don’t get me wrong, computers, iPads and phones are wonderful things but they are meant to enhance our lives not dominate them to the point of destruction. We are in danger of diluting our personal relationships with children and spouses and wider family members for the sake of our relationship with our phones and by extension our relationship with our friends and followers. Which do you think is more important?

helloworld
Hello, world by Dwayne Bent courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/c9BGhf https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Disconnecting in the short term – a digital detox – is perfectly possible but what about in the long term? Spending time on our phones is a habit. We do it through the fear or missing out and often from boredom. Interestingly, we often feel less fulfilled as a result. The nagging thought that we are “wasting time”, the incessant comparing of ourselves or our lives to others often leaves us feeling inadequate and dissatisfied. Perhaps it’s time to kick the habit.

Limiting the time you spend on your phone or other devices is the answer. As with breaking any ingrained habit the best way to draw back is by doing it over a number of weeks. Don’t set yourself unrealistic targets and don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. Persevere however because the results will be worth it.

A whole new world of possibilities will open up for you together with the time and space to reconnect with your old world – the people who physically share your life. In turn this will lead to you feeling more connected than you ever did previously, you will also have a greater sense of fulfillment and contentment. What’s not to love about that?

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Even the strong need to be weak sometimes

strength
Strength by Michael Havens courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Are you one of those people who others turn to in times of crisis? Are you the shoulder to lean on? The one who sorts things out and makes people feel better? I am one of those people and I like the fact that others feel they can rely on me and that they see me as someone who they can trust to help them. But what happen when it’s you who needs the help?

It is one thing to give help to others, it’s quite another to accept help in return or even to ask for it. To those of us who think of ourselves as strong it’s hard to let go and admit there are some things you simply cannot handle on your own.

cant-bear-to-look
Can’t bear to look by Rennett Stowe courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Strong people often take pride in their strength and their ability to cope. They feel sorry for those weaker than themselves who cannot ride the tides of life quite so well. But even for the strongest amongst us, life can sometimes drag you down to your knees and when it does it takes a different kind of strength to reach out and grab the hands being offered to you.

Lemur giving hands
Lemur Giving Hands by Tambako The Jaguar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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So next time life batters you around the head don’t let pride stop you asking for help, give yourself permission to be weak, just for a little while because the real strength is in knowing you don’t have to be strong all the time.

 

Catch up with friends not boxsets

I recently caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in months. You know how it is, you promise each other you’ll get together but somehow life gets in the way and weeks become months seemingly in the blink of an eye.

Calendar
Calendar* by Dafne Cholet courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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It’s all too easy to slip into a routine after a busy day at work. That bottle chilling in the fridge is calling to you as is the latest boxset at your fingertips. You can gorge yourself on back to back episodes and live your life vicariously through the characters on the screen.

Watching TV
Relaxing by C.P. Storm courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Going out takes effort: making plans, getting dressed up. Going out means unknown variables: how are you going to get there? Will the place you’re going to be any good? Will you enjoy yourself? Stack up all those unknowns against a glass of wine, a remote control and finding out what happens next in the latest story you are hooked by and it’s hard for real life to compete.

But don’t let the boxset win out. Don’t take the easy option. I spent the fastest three and a half hours of my life enjoying fabulous food in a restaurant with a great atmosphere catching up with an old friend I have known for (eek!) over thirty years.

Gossip Girls
Gossip Girls by Nicola Romagna courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The evening flew by full of laughter, tears, reminiscences and great stories. We weren’t quite the last to leave but almost. You know the restaurant staff are getting antsy when they start laying out the tables for the following day’s service! That said, they never tried to hurry us along.

Wine glass
Wine by Quinn Dombrowski courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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When we said goodbye we promised each other we wouldn’t leave it as long. It’s an old familiar refrain. We all do it, right? And then life consumes us once more and the pages of the calendar turn faster and faster. Will it be any different this time? I hope so because I came away fulfilled, re-energised and happy.

Smile
Smile by Kathy Kimpel courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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I have yet to find a boxset, however gripping, that has the same effect.