VOS: FOMO: Why We Check Reels and Stories

FOMO: Why We Check Reels and Stories

Productivity & Growth
Emotional wellbeing

April 2023

FOMO: Why We Check Reels and Stories

FOMO stands for ‘Fear of missing out’ and it describes uncomfortable feelings associated with the fear of missing out on an exciting experience, event, or opportunity that others are enjoying. FOMO can be manifested in different areas of life – such as work or personal relationships – but mostly it’s associated with social media. On the internet, people are constantly sharing their experiences, which can lead individuals to feel like they are not living their lives to the fullest or that they are not keeping up with their peers.

In this article, we will explain to you how FOMO works and what you can do to use social media and keep your freedom.

FOMO & social media

This term has been originally used in marketing, so it’s not a surprise social media are using it to get people to spread it further. They are constantly coming up with new ways to convince users they want to know what content other people have shared. We don’t want to miss our friends' stories that disappear after 24 hours or intriguing reels we may never find again in the piles of shirt videos that get released every day.

What are we missing out on, really?

We don’t want to miss out on something important on social media, but what are we really missing out on? Statistics show that children between 8 and 18 spend on average 7.5 hours in front of the screen per day. That’s almost a whole one-day shift!

Even psychologists investigated how FOMO works and how it affects us. Research shows that although social media helps people that are anxious about interacting with others in real life, the fear of missing out is generally associated with a negative impact on general mental health, including:

  • Interrupted sleep
  • Problems with concentration and productivity
  • Clinical depression
  • A decline in academic performance

Constant use of social media makes us compare ourselves to others more, leading to unpleasant feelings of frustration, envy, jealousy, anger, anxiety, or desire to chase social media perfection.

Three ways to hack FOMO

In this article, scientists found out there are certain ways to reduce the anxiety connected with the fear of missing out on something. Here are the top 3 tools that can help you.

1. Settings such as auto-reply or turning off the "active" status

To avoid the pressure of having to reply immediately, let others know you’re not available at the moment. Different social media platforms provide different options. In most cases, you can turn off your active status or notifications. Instagram lets you set up an automatic message when someone’s texting you. On WhatsApp, you can update your status with a note. Don't hold back on the possibilities the technology offers.

2. Try self-talk

Stop the flow of thoughts for a moment and use positive self-talk to manage the rising anxiety. Try saying sentences like: ‘I do not expect interaction from others when posting on social media’ or ‘I set my status saying I am busy at the moment, so I do not need to check each notification immediately’. Reassure yourself that being offline is ok.

3. Let go of expectations from others

We form our expectations about interaction with others on social media based on our previous experiences. Manage your own expectations by acknowledging that you do not expect to get reactions from others when you post something. Help others overcome their own feelings of rejection by telling them you will not be replying immediately.

We have shown you what FOMO is and how it works. Just knowing about it gives you more freedom to use technology in a less harmful way. We hope you find the tips above helpful!

Check out the resources we've used to learn more:

  1. Alutaybi, A., Al-Thani, D., McAlaney, J., & Ali, R. (2020). Combating Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on Social Media: The FoMO-R Method. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(17), 6128. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176128
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infographics - Screen Time vs. Lean Time. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/multimedia/infographics/getmoving.html
  3. Gupta, M., & Sharma, A. (2021). Fear of missing out: A brief overview of origin, theoretical underpinnings and relationship with mental health. World journal of clinical cases, 9(19), 4881–4889. https://doi.org/10.12998/wjcc.v9.i19.4881

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