“FOMO is the enemy of valuing your own time.”

-Andrew Yang

Imagine this scenario. You’re on one of your zillion social media accounts and surrounded by glamorous pictures of friends, family members and people who you can’t even remember how, if at all, you know.

Each picture you see appears like the most beautiful Kodak moment. The water at the beach has never been bluer. The sunset has never looked more radiant. Your otherwise homely looking aunt from Peoria has seemingly gotten an overnight facelift and looks like a supermodel. And everyone has good news in abundance. Pregnancies, job promotions, weight loss journeys, publication offers; everyone’s life is perfect.

Except yours. You look at the pictures and think “Is God or the universe specifically ignoring me?” You have a case of FOMO or fear of missing out.

The good news is, you’re not alone. According to a study conducted by The Psychiatry Research Journal, everyone, regardless of age, race or sex, goes through FOMO at some point when spending an abundance of time on social media.

In various studies, cases of FOMO have been known to trigger all sorts of mental health issues including anxiety and depression if not prevented. So what can you do to prevent it?

When going browsing through social media apps, keep these facts in mind:

  • Perfection does not exist. The majority of people who post on social media usually apply at least one and in most cases, multiple filters before posting any kind of picture. I once got acquainted with someone on Twitter and we became pretty good friends. A few years later, I met him in person at a writer’s conference and was shocked at his age. It turned out that every picture he had uploaded on Twitter was of him from 20 years ago. Even ones in which he was describing his “present” endeavors. Always remember, pictures of others you see are not always real. Don’t torture yourself by thinking “so and so looks so good for his age and I don’t.”
  • Along with filters like brightness, color correction, pop, etc there’s another unnamed, intangible filter. I call it a “best of” filter. Updates you see on social media are mostly “highlights” of a day or week, not the whole period. If I get an acceptance email for a poem or a story, I acknowledge (i.e. boast 😂) about it. What I conveniently leave out is the five other rejections I got the same week. There’s nothing really wrong with that in theory. Look at any photo album assembled years before the advent of social media. Even from back then, you’ll see pictures of celebrations, not bad times. But it is important to keep that in mind when looking at others’ pictures. You’re only seeing a highlight reel. It doesn’t mean they don’t have bad days.
  • Even the “highlight reels” don’t come without their share of adversities. You may see your BFF at a beach and feel bad that here you are stuck at home. But how did they get there? How much did it cost them? Maybe it took them months to save up to go there. Maybe their flights were delayed and they were stranded at an airport for hours before reaching their destination. Good news or bad news, every endeavor is like a movie. There’s pre-production, production and a post-production phase. What you see is the final edit, not what goes on behind-the-scenes.

In short, if you’re feeling FOMO just because of what you see on social media, always keep in mind that either’s it’s not entirely real or it’s heavily edited. Everyone has good moments and bad moments. Everyone has their own inner beauty and outer beauty. The best thing you can do in any endeavor is be true to yourself.

Have you ever had feelings of FOMO? Have you ever browsed through social media and felt insecure about your looks or your life afterwards? What do you think can be done to prevent that? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.

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Hi, I'm Neel! I'm a writer (fiction and poetry), a journalist and currently working in the advertising business. I'm also a mental health advocate, having been diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago.
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Shirley Satterfield
3 months ago

I think FOMO fosters envy in a lot of cases, but what people fail to realize is that a lot of behind the scenes work goes into the accomplishments of others. And we all have the capacity to work hard for what we want with the right motivation. Thank you for sharing your heart with us Neel, everyday. And congratulations 🍾 on all your open doors and may you have many more to share with us.

3 months ago

Wow- this article hit home! It was liker you were in my head. I usually hide when someone wants to take my picture. Because I don’ like to use filters – they are a lie. Lol okay i have yourd them sometimes but i don’t feel like me. Also, i’m of the mind if you want to go to the beach like your friend did – then work for it! I’ve been jealous many times. Social media has changed the game. I no longer put my life in it! It a game i chose not to play! Keep writing- this… Read more »

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