It turns out that there’s an issue in the social media community that goes by the acronym FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. According to Mashable, it’s something suffered by a considerable 56% of social media users, which is pretty considerable. But given that it’s just another cause of social media addiction, it’s a problem that can be dealt with by changing the way we see social media and our interaction with it.
A lot of you are likely aware of this phrase, and the majority of you probably dislike it somewhat vehemently. But hey! Put down the pitchforks and torches for a second and hear me out. The wonderful thing about YOLO – You Only Live Once – is that it’s true! You only get to do this particular run once, regardless of your beliefs, so you may as well make it enjoyable, right?
As a result, that may mean you’re worried about missing out on opportunities and so on, contributing to the social media-related anxiety known as FOMO. But don’t fear – you’ve simply got to change the way you prioritise your social media habits. First of all, stop looking at it all the time! You might have your laptop with you in the park, but you could be writing the next great novel, not endlessly flicking through someone’s holiday photos! I’m just as guilty of this as you are, but you’re not going to get that great new job, meet the person of your dreams and go cycling across China if you’re sat updating your Facebook status once an hour, are you?
Additionally, look at Facebook as a source of opportunities not via the main feed, most of the time, but via the Events page. The same goes for Twitter – try and find accounts that tweet events rather than endless updates and you’ll find you do less tweet reading and more going out. This is important, because it alleviates your FOMO and sure makes you feel a little YOLO!
Don’t be antisocial
Now, I know I’ve recommended you step away, but there’s no need to stop checking in altogether – social media is a vital tool for interacting with other human beings in 2013, whether you like it or not. But again, you’ve got to think about the way in which you’re engaging with the content on display for you at all times.
Firstly, see social media as a communications tool and something to pass the time in between doing other things – not as a priority. There’s a difference between poking through your Facebook feed while you’re waiting for a bus and doing the same while you’re on a conference call at work – social media is simply a bunch of your buddies chatting, for most of us, and if you wouldn’t ring or text them during that call, then social media is out, too!
There is of course an argument for using it professionally, and this is fine – some people actually help their careers by being active social media users. But there are ways to achieve this without a constant need for contact with social media. Smart uses of scheduling and writing updates and so on in advance means that you can set it all up at the beginning of the day, week or month and then you only have to check in on people’s responses, rather than submitting the time-consuming stuff yourself.
Some parting thoughts
Finally, don’t demonise your social media use. It’s a good suite of tools and it’s helped more people connect than ever before. It gets a bad rap in the press because it’s addictive and a lot of children are tapping into it too, but realistically it’s also because sometimes the people writing those articles and appearing on talk shows to remonstrate with social media users are similar to those who used to think TV was “the devil.” Pinch of salt, and don’t FOMO – just YOLO!