Why FOMO is Real and How to Get Over It

Posted on July 8, 2013

I just came back from a weekend retreat where there was no phone reception or Wifi for 2 whole days.

That’s right, 2 days with no connection to the outside world.

I must admit, there was a period of anxiety that first night when I began to wonder what I was missing out on. Important messages from work, urgent family trouble, friends doing things that were inevitably much more exciting than what I was.

There was something that urged me to check my phone, even though I knew there was no way I could get anything where I was.

Then it dawned on me. I was experiencing the classic symptoms of FOMO or Fear of Missing Out.

In this age of constant connection, it’s getting harder and harder to switch off. With the click of a button, one can suddenly be everywhere and anywhere, absorbing and observing events like some kind of cyber voyeur.

We want to make sure our lives are as interesting/fun/fulfilling as those we see plastered across our computer screens. And when they don’t live up to the expectation, we feel we’re missing out on something important.

So what did I miss out on while I was gone?

A handful of emails, a few boring status updates and a couple of ho-hum news stories.

I think the more important question was what did I miss out on while I was there? Did I enjoy my unplugged weekend or was I too caught up in FOMO to truly appreciate it?

Luckily in this particular instance, I got over it pretty fast and threw myself headfirst into the experience.

But what do you do when you’re having trouble switching off? When you just can’t seem to stop checking your phone every 5 minutes or quench that gnawing feeling that there’s something happening somewhere right now that you should know about?

I’ve put together 4 simple tips to help wean you off your FOMO addiction:

Technology free zones

No one likes having a conversation with someone while they’re on their phone. So declare certain activities technology free, like eating dinner, chatting over coffee or going out for drinks. Think of all the stuff you’ll pick up now that you’re not distracted!

Do something you love

Go to the beach, watch a great movie, take a walk in the park, and really try to be present while you’re doing it. Think about how great it is right now, rather than how great it will look later as a Instagram pic/witty Tweet/Foursquare check-in.

Pencil it in

Schedule your time on certain devices or set aside a specific time for mindless surfing. If you don’t want to it give up altogether, the least you can do is cut down your exposure.

Cold turkey

Go on a technology fast for a set amount of time. You can make it as extreme as you want to. Restrict your activity across all forms of technology for a week or eliminate one device from your life for the weekend.

photo credit: William Hook

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