We’ve all heard of FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out – a phenomenon that’s on the rise given the proliferation of social media and all the ways we can discover what we’re not doing. There’s facebook to tell us about all the parties our friends are at but we’re not, twitter to point out all the job opportunities we’re letting slip by, tinder to remind us of all the people who aren’t that into us and instagram to show us all the beaches we are not sunbathing on. The sheer quantity of stuff we’re not doing can get overwhelming, indeed FOMO forms part of many mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Whilst this blog will not deal with these more severe and distressing instances of missing out I do want to offer a simple way of getting over mild cases of FOMO – it’s called MOLI – Missing Out & Loving It.
Suffering from FOMO can be a bit like the five stages of grief – first there’s denial: “I’m not going to Petra’s party but I’m fine with that, totally fine.” Then there’s anger: “Why didn’t Petra invite me to the party? What’s wrong with me, I’m fun aren’t I? Dam Petra and her party to hell!” Then bargaining, “Come on Petra, please invite me, come on Petra” (although this we’re more likely to say in our head rather than out loud). And depression: “I’m super sad that I’m not going to the party, *unhappy emoticon*”. And finally acceptance: “I’m not going to the party…oh…it’s already the next day and the party’s over.”
It’s a difficult process to go through and often very unpleasant. However, I reckon MOLI can be employed as a means of avoiding stages one through to four and getting straight to the final bit, acceptance. Basically, everyday there are literally billions of things we aren’t doing, there are jobs we’re not applying for, new friends we’re not making, partners we’re not falling in love with, parties we’re not going to etc but rather than let these things overwhelm us we can get a little Buddhist on it and just shrug it off – “Sure these things are happening but hey I’ll just enjoy the stuff I am doing (even if it’s just chilling at home watching Bake Off and eating a Mars Bar).”
Consumer culture thrives off making us dissatisfied with our lives – always a new top to buy, the latest trendy bar to drink at, a new clique to hang out with – whilst actively discouraging us from finding pleasure and meaning in the stuff we do do. We’re constantly encouraged to look away from what we’ve got towards what we don’t have. But we can reverse this – we can look closer to home at the friends we do hang out with, the events we do go to and the things we do treasure rather than constantly comparing ourselves to others. It’s a gentle habit we can foster by making a point of enjoying the stuff we’ve got. We can certainly acknowledge the stuff we’re not doing but most of the time that’s fine, why not just let it go screw itself and enjoy what’s happening here and now.
If MOLI doesn’t work one back up plan is IPS – It’s Probably Shit – sure they’re all smiling in the photos and it’s sunny but think of all the stuff you can’t see – Paul’s suffering from a terrible stomach bug and has actually spent most of the holiday in bed/on the loo, Jabrill and Maya have just had another relationship row, Archie’s been drinking way too much again and Marie’s wondering why she got in so much debt for this shoddy holiday anyway. They might be putting on some convincing fake smiles but It’s Probably Shit.
So yeah, I’m Missing Out but, guess what, I’m Loving It. Unlike this woman…