Recently, I was in a yoga class and at the end of class we were discussing social media.  This instructor said she did not have any social media accounts, while there might be moments that she might be missing out on cute pictures of pets and babies, the gains she receives in time and not feeling like she is “missing out” far outweigh the cons.

What is FOMO?

Facebook fuels the feeling of “FOMO,” the Fear of Missing Out.  When you look at what your friends are doing, or looking at vacation photos it is easy to wonder what you are missing out on.  Especially if your friends are at a party that you clearly were not invited to.  Before Facebook if you weren’t invited to a party or gathering you probably never even learned about it.  The feeling of being “left out” never surfaced.  With Facebook, it is inevitable that you will feel snubbed by friends if they are posting pictures of themselves at a social event that you were unaware of.

More than one billion people log into Facebook every day and it remains the world’s most popular social networking site. Studies show Facebook use is associated with lower life satisfaction and that spending a lot of time on Facebook will make you sad.

How Facebook Makes FOMO Worse

According to a 2014 study published in Computers in Human Behavior, most people aren’t using social media to be social. Only about 9 percent of Facebook’s users’ activities involve communicating with others.  Study participants experienced a sharp decline in their moods after scrolling through Facebook. Interestingly, they didn’t experience the same emotional decline when they surfed the internet. The toll on mental health was unique to Facebook.

Scrolling through happy status updates, exciting vacation photos, and beautiful family moments led participants to compare their lives with those of their Facebook friends and it is hard to not feel a bit envious and FOMO.   Many people after scrolling through facebook for an hour or more, feel like they have wasted their time.  But, we continue to check Facebook daily.  Studies confirm that people predict Facebook is going to make them feel better.

People assume Facebook activity will boost their mood as they check in with how their friends are doing. They don’t recognize that it’s actually robbing them of joy.

The Joy Of Missing Out

Young woman doing cartwheel on grass

How do you move from a Fear of Missing out to embracing the Joy of the present moment?  Michelle Rees writes a great blog on why you should embrace JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out, vs FOMO.

Here are a few tips to get you out of the habit of mindless Facebook scrolling:

Awareness: Knowing that Facebook can harm your emotional well-being is the first step towards taking a step back from it.

Limit your time: Try to only check Facebook once a week for less than 30 minutes or if you do check it daily.  Set a timer and only do it for max 15 minutes and then stop.

Awaken your creativity: I know it is easy when you are waiting for something or standing in line to take out your phone and look at Facebook.   Next time, try to just stand.  Having idle time can activate your creativity.  If you have more time, journal, color, draw, or take a walk in nature.  All of these things will awaken your creativity and make you feel more grounded and calm.

Embrace Joy!