It is that time of year when several of us in the social space are feeling the need to take a break for a few days to decompress from the onslaught of status updates. The big question is, can we step away from social media for a few days? Is it even humanly possible?
Social media can be extremely addicting, particularly when you make a living in this space. Many of us have come down with a common affliction known as FOMO, the fear of missing out. My friend Cecily Kellogg recently admitted that she has been afflicted with FOMO in this post for MomCrunch: http://blogs.babble.com/momcrunch/2012/06/28/do-you-have-fomo-fear-of-missing-out/.
Oddly, you can catch FOMO even if you think you are immune to its effects. Yes you, who sleeps with a wireless device on your bedside table and who checks it one last time before shutting your eyes at night then again before lifting your head off the pillow in the morning.
If you cannot walk away from your social media accounts long enough to spend quality time with your family, you may have FOMO. If your kid is on the sliding board and you are on you are on Twitter, you may have FOMO. (Guilty as charged.) If you relentlessly check your friends’ status updates while they are at an event you could not attend, you more than likely have FOMO. If social media is your only form of relaxation, you have a fear of missing out. If you make your significant other drive on long car rides because it would be too much time for you to stay off Facebook, you have a severe case of FOMO and need an intervention immediately.
Some other common symptoms of FOMO include:
- Overactive awareness of what others are posting online and doing in their personal lives
- An overwhelming need to know who unfollowed you on Twitter
- An intense need to wish every one of your 743 friends a happy birthday
- The inability to walk away from a device which has online connectivity
- A powerful desire to “like” at least 25 posts per day
- The inability to perform simple daily tasks (such as making dinner) without a wireless device on hand
And by the way, if you concerned that you do not have FOMO since most of your friends do, then guess what? You have it too.
Fortunately, there are some positive actions you can take to lessen this affliction’s effects on your psyche. Experts suggest beginning with baby steps and staying within your comfort zone as you progress forward. Here are some ideas to get you started on your journey back to normalcy:
- If you must have a wireless device near you while sleeping, place that device on the other side of the room. Then, if you absolutely must get out of bed to check status updates at least you will be getting a negligible amount of exercise.
- When you take your child to a class, practice, game or event, make a concerted effort to keep your eyes on your child rather than your phone. Note that looking at your child through your phone by taking photos or video to upload to Facebook does not count.
- Choose the number of times per day or specific times of day when you can check for status updates. You might find that you can actually get something else accomplished with your time.
- If you go to the gym, leave your phone in your locker while working out. You can record your run for your fans, friends and followers once it is over.
- When you go out with your spouse or significant other, take one phone between the two of you for emergencies, like finding out that your friend’s sister got a new puppy.
Have you been afflicted with FOMO yet? How are you dealing with the symptoms? Do you have advice for others who have come down with the fear of missing out?
Please note: This post does not constitute medical advice. It merely seeks to point out that the world has gone mad. If you are in need of serious medical help or if you are a danger to yourself or others without a wireless device on hand, contact your doctor, a mental health practitioner or Tech Support immediately.