The Fear of Missing Out

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You might be surprised to learn that we’re twice as motivated by the feelings of loss than we are by the potential of gains. This means that we’re much more likely to react and take more drastic actions to avoid missing out on something—rather than spend that same energy upfront to proactively advance. This is known as Prospect Theory and is generally applied to economic conditions. However, the aversion to loss is deeply rooted within our social nature and originally developed as a biological mechanism in the mode of survival.

A heightened sense of awareness, increased anxiety, and quick thinking emerges during these moments of potential loss as our minds’ way to avoid being left behind. It’s a biological reaction that occurs for everyone and can have deeply affective emotional repercussions. You’re probably already familiar with this phenomenon in the way that social media can often perpetuate anxiety. It comes in when you see posts and pictures about people that are living their best lives while you’re viewing it through a screen—and the feelings can be all-consuming.

Recently the foundations of Prospect Theory evolved into the phrase Fear of Missing Out or FOMO. FOMO is characterized as feelings of anxiousness that something exciting or interesting is happening elsewhere. Coined in 2013, it interestingly coincides with the advent and increasing adoption of social media.

As our online lives have grown exponentially in 2020 to include a bigger swath of our personal and professional lives, so have the emotional ramifications of FOMO. Time spent working remotely or socializing virtually, can also feel like time spent alone. This loss of connection has affected millions of us and is further exasperated by our shelter-in-place approach to beating the pandemic. What this all boils down to is a need for increased awareness about the psychological and emotional effects that can derail even the best of us.

This week, take a look at the Fundamental Needs Module in your Prism Portrait. Remember that a mismanaged Fundamental Need can be a destructive force in anyone’s life. Consider how your increasingly remote lifestyle with online connections is impacting your primary need for Control, Security, or Significance. Then to put some positive actions in motion and mitigate the effects of FOMO, here are some helpful thoughts from Lifehack’s Jade Nyx for How to Choose Jomo in a World Full of FOMO.

“FOMO (fear of missing out) is the enemy of valuing your own time.”

– Andrew Yang

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