5 Ways To Deal With Social Media-Induced FOMO

Photo: getty
social media fomo

Most of us can attest to feeling like we live in a fishbowl these days — especially if you view or post on social media often.

There have been studies and data that say we are more unhappy when we spend lots of time on social media versus out in real life. Why? Because when people post their fantastic times online, it gives you glimpses into a world that you're not a part of. 

Hence the term the “fear of missing out,” or #FOMO

RELATED: FOMO Or FOFO? 8 Reasons You Could Be Seriously Hurting Your Relationship

Are we going on vacation to relax, or to take awesome photos that make our so-called "friends" jealous? Are we throwing lavish get-togethers with fancy décor and professional event planners because we truly want to impress our guests and give them the "wow" factor, or because we want to show others how important we are? (After all, the Kardashians can throw a mean party!)

I did not want to believe that #FOMO was a real phenomenon. But then it started to rear its head — first in therapy sessions with my clients who worried that everyone else has a better life than they do, and then when it happened to me.

Feeling FOMO was more painful than I could have imagined. I felt blindsided and bewildered. These were supposed friends that I had been in the company of for many years, and now, they were seemingly carrying out their social lives in front of social media for all to see!

And I hadn't been invited to join in it with them...

Instead, I found out about their adventures after they'd already happened on social media.

Naturally, it made me wonder... in a society where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, whether on social media or in person, how can we process that our lives are acceptable just the way they are?

In order to better accept your life and stop worrying about what other people are doing that might be more fun, here are 5 ways to help fight off your FOMO:

1. Understand that people are often fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Most people will readily admit that they post their best selves online (obviously, for validation reasons). After all, has anyone really paused and thought about actually answering the question random people ask all the time? 

When we are greeted with, “Hi, how are you?” Did you really want to know the answer to that question? It is a protective mechanism for people to not display their baggage for all to see (and I’m not suggesting that happen all the time; either). Be mindful of what you do not see.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways To Overcome FOMO (The Fear Of Missing Out)

2. Use logic. 

Were you out of town when the event occurred? Did your phone die recently, or did you move? Did the event occur far away from where you live? Did you recently go through something major and find yourself needing time away from others right now? Perhaps your friends are trying to give you space (but should still probably check in with you to make sure that’s what you want and need).

3. Assess your relationships. 

Do you and the people you feel disconnected from have a falling out or uncomfortable silence the last time you spent time together? Is there something you need to talk about that perhaps might have precluded you from being involved in the situation? Be honest with yourself and them. People, even the ones you are close to, can’t always read your mind.

4. Are you really that close to one another anymore? 

Relationships are often similar to a roller coaster. It is normal to feel close to people at different points in your life. If you are single and now you are coupled up, this often changes the dynamics within the relationship. Reach out to some friends you haven’t seen or talked to in awhile.

Sometimes you have to make the effort or the first move. However, if you feel like you are the one making all the plans and no one bothers to include you, then perhaps that is a sign that something deeper is going on that deserves exploration.

5. Plan your own fun.

Include who you want, and don’t invite who you don’t want to. Decide if the occurrence should be put on social media, or if you want to keep it private. Besides, if people feel they already know everything you do in your life, what’s the point of having a conversation?

You know the people in your life who post everything they eat, drink, and in between. Leave some events to the imagination. More importantly, plan your life and be flexible enough to see who shows up. After all, your life is the one that is most important to be living to the fullest; not chasing after an imaginary higher standard.

RELATED: Your Greatest FOMO, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're struggling with body image issues and are ready to take steps towards loving yourself as you are — while working toward becoming your best self —  Dr. Maxine Langdon Starr, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California who specializes in adolescents and young adults, can help. If you'd like to reach out to her, you can visit her webpage.