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Decoding FOMO

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A derivative of what the 21st century’s social media holds, let us figure out what truly is this FOMO.

As we swung in a fast forward motion to the world of social media and the smartphone, making our life buzzing (pun-intended) and also distanced in a way. It was a strange discovery after going through a workmate’s personal text to me, that while I declare myself as a millennial child, the bearing of FOMO in the lingo intrigued me, and here is how it goes.

FOMO stands for the Fear Of Missing Out. What really captivates me is its uncanny rhyme to my favourite street food ‘momo’ and the tenacity of the mind to control the urge to have some. Keeping this digression aside, let us focus on the coinage of this slang. The surge of this term grew somewhat in the phase when Instagram rocked the entire globe. Not even one celebrity post or any major event has the comments section missing out on this “FOMO”.

We all come across some of these things, “I didn’t read this tweet that was posted by xyz celebrity”, “I haven’t posted a story of this breaking news on my Instagram!”, “I can’t believe two of my workmates are dating, their pictures say otherwise”, “I wish I could’ve gone to this party”, “I wish I had a dressing sense like her, it’s amazing” and much more.

The FOMO is a feeling of being left out or having a tendency to feel insecure upon realization that one misses out on a particular event or a story or any other happening which influences their life. In the words of Annie Rana, a literature student from Maitreyi College, “FOMO for me arises definitely upon scrolling through my Instagram feed, that too when my weekends are spent in my house, as opposed to going for a night-out with my friends or missing out on something in my social circle’s calendar.”

Studies conducted by different research groups suggest a binary approach to understanding FOMO. While one research group asserts it is a general anxiety over the idea that others are having a more content and fulfilling time without you, whereas the other research groups states it to be a social anxiety which revolves around a continuous urge to be connected with the activities of one’s friends or other people.

We all can admit that we have all felt this fear of being left out once or twice (or more for some), especially if we are to believe in the delusions of conventionality. Taking the case of the youth, FOMO arises especially if we witness someone, who we are connected to socially having a great time around, probably a fancy lunch, or a weekend party, as opposed to our plans, which might be to laze around in the company of our bed and duvet, making us feel that we are ‘boring’ or have no ‘social life’.  It is also believed that the people, who experience FOMO, are in fact very active on social media, accrediting to the constant exposure to others’ lives and being up to date about it, creating an unnecessary feeling of being bothered and having bouts of self-doubt in you.

Heena Garg, a second year student of Maitreyi College comments, “I have witnessed the feeling of FOMO quite a lot. My friends who are outstation students have more access to partying or ‘chilling’ around frequently, due to the state of their accommodation like PGs or apartments, as opposed to me, who usually prefers weekends as time to spend with the family. It bothered me a little at first, but I think I have accepted this fact and in fact it makes me more joyous. It is about knowing what makes you really happy and to really stop doubting yourself as a person, because everyone has different interests when it comes to spending their time.”

Due to its widespread use, the word is now a part of the Oxford Dictionary, ever since 2013, making it as valid a term, as any other word from the language.

The feeling of FOMO also hints at a hidden desperation or a need to be validated by the others. Most online shopping sites also use this tactic to a fine advantage. Social media handles which portray the quirkiest and eclectic collections become online favourites among users quick due to their different approach and also because the FOMO factor which is targeted in the users, making one believe what they are buying is definitely the next big thing or definitely something which will make them look much more cool.

The question which we should ask ourselves is, how do we get rid of this online disease? The answer is simple. Opting for a social media detox. While others may chide it as useless, or something which comes off as very ‘first world-ish problem’, a social media break, in fact helps you to focus better and to stop consuming much of your time lingering around others’ feeds or stalking them and then feeling worse about yourself. Taking this break will help you to find time for yourself and most certainly give you time for the much needed introspection. Why a lot of people have now started opting and recommending for a social media break is because we all need it at some point ot the other. It is exhaustive and it is impressionable. It makes us want to blend in better, making us thus feel detached from our true identities’, resulting in this feeling of being as lost and clueless as ever.

Hence, FOMO, as hideous as this acronym may sound, is in fact much more a grave thought. I suggest, we all take a step back from this incessant need to be involved into other people’s lives and invest our time to better causes.


 Image Credits: giphy

Avnika Chhikara

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