FOMO? It's Killing Our Kids (And Us, Too)

FOMO.

No, it's some new cereal or chocolate drink.

And it's making millennials freak out and desperately try to avoid it.

It's Fear of Missing Out.

And this new behavior angst is quickly taking a toll on Generation Y—and it’s probably causing damage to your own life, according to newswise.com.

Do you have trouble sitting through a movie without obsessively checking your phone? Does your family complain about your constant social media habit? If you panic at the thought of not having a window to the world, you may be experiencing FOMO—which was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.

Living our lives through this virtual filter isn’t really living at all—it only fuels an anxious mindset that we must be ‘missing out,' the web site reports.

But it's not just limited to millennials.  I find myself panicking, too, when I can't get to my email or my texts.  

With at least 24 percent of teenagers online ‘almost constantly,’ it’s no surprise that fear of missing out is an epidemic among millennials. “FOMO is especially rampant in the millennial community because they see a peer achieving something they want, and somehow in their mind, that achievement means something is being ‘taken away’ from them,” says Darlene McLaughlin, M.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychiatry and behavioral health specialist with Texas A&M Physicians.

I have friends who post every meal they make, every margarita on the beach (okay, I'm jealous), the wash they just did (well, almost) and just about anything else they do on Facebook on a daily basis.  I suspect they're terrified of being thought FOMO. They live for likes.

It’s easy to define our lives based on the virtual crowd that's watching, critiquing, and applauding our every move. It’s even easier to conform to the crowd’s mold—constantly measuring our lives against a celebrity’s Instagram post or a friend’s life event. (Admit it: how many parties have you seen on Facebook that you weren't invited to? Okay, so maybe that's just me.)

Recent studies have shown that FOMO is linked to feelings of dissatisfaction. “The problem with FOMO is the individuals it impacts are looking outward instead of inward,” McLaughlin adds. “When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world.”

I fall prey to it, too, shooting selfies everywhere I go to prove I went somewhere!

When we consistently believe we are ‘missing out,’ at any age, anxiety and depression may set in.

 "FOMO is an emotion—driven by thoughts—that can create the fear and anxiety which leads to a mental health diagnosis. It’s a symptom of a larger problem at hand," she says.

According to McLaughlin, at least three to 13 percent of the population are diagnosed with a condition called social anxiety. “Part of social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others or embarrassing oneself in social interactions,” she says. “FOMO is very damaging to someone suffering from this anxiety disorder because it fuels a lack of self-confidence and social avoidance.”

Or the need to post everything you do.

Sadly, many of us have pretty bad cases of FOMO—even if we’re unwilling to admit it. And, this incessant worrying about what everyone else is doing only causes us to miss out on our own lives even more. So, how do we fix FOMO? Maybe with a large dose of YOLO (you only live once).








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