“FOMO”; Fear Of Missing Out, can have deadly consequences. Feeling that need to reach for your mobile device while driving may make great sense. But doing 110 k down a motorway and responding to a loved one’s tweet means you have to split your attention. Life can be rearranged in an instant, in a tweet in fact! Back in 2017, The Sydney Swans supported a campaign to help.
In this campaign, several Swans stars distract star player Kieren Jack to the point where he drops his phone into the glove box the get some peace.
The relief he experiences is palpable. The message clear. Get your hand (and mind) off your phone while driving. So why do we feel compelled to respond to the stimulus of our phone buzzing, ringing, flashing or whatever?
Fear of missing out. – FOMO
The term; ‘fomo’ is well worn now and with good reason. Social media’s relentless activity suggests so much is happening. And it’s happening without us! Oh, the horror. The horror!
Even trivial, faintly amusing, gifs of kittens being cute is not to be missed. Why? Seems the new crime is to be out of touch. So, to avoid missing out we become vigilant, sensitive to the next stimulus, the next ring, the next buzz or flash.
What’s worse than never ending calls on our devices?
When they don’t happen. Silence…The horror. The horror! This can only mean one thing. We’re excluded. We’ve missed out. This places us in a bind. Participate or disappear. Comment, respond, emoji or face social exclusion. That’s the fear anyway. But how might we defeat FOMO?
Fear of missing out is only a form of anxiety. That right “only” anxiety. Anxiety is an overestimation of threat coupled with underestimation of personal power. The greatest enemy of anxiety is perspective. Of course anxiety is grounded in one perspective. Namely, that awful stuff will happen and we are powerless to deal with it when it does.
Testing perspectives can be fun! Deciding if a possible feared event is probable. If I put my phone in the glove box while driving for twenty minutes, what’s the worst thing that might happen? I miss my friends puppy farting, Donald Trump’s hair escape in the wind, or clever wisdom from the Lama. So what! A friend asks if I’m ok? After all it’s been almost half an hour! So what!
Many have seen the Sydney Swans feature in the ‘get your hand of it in the car’ campaign. What’s worth considering is the relief a break from chatter can bring. In a hyper-stimulating world, a break may be a good idea.
The relaxation response is a powerful antidote to FOMO. Practicing mindfulness, being in the present without any busy thoughts interfering, is very useful. After all, how can we be afraid if we are relaxed, present, and passive?
Is it easy to practice mindfulness? Honestly, it takes a while to get the quiet thing happening. Being frantic for so long, applying the brakes, clearly takes some adjustment! Practice delivers results eventually of not promptly.
Like mindfulness, hypnosis involves a most agreeable state of absorption and focus. No room for FOMO here! In fact FOMO can be defeated here, for good! Where mindfulness calls for peaceful presence, in the moment, without engagement with thought occurrences, hypnosis can call for replacement strategies. While deeply relaxed, we can get to replace unhelpful patterns of thinking that support FOMO.
FOMO is ‘just’ anxiety…
Because anxiety is a process, something we do, we can ‘do’ something else. We have that freedom. The presence of mind to choose not to reach for our devices in the car can feel quite liberating, empowering even. Just try it before life gets rearranged … in a tweet!