FOMO Syndrome


Mrs. N. Sakthi Bharathi

Sacred Heart Nursing College, Madurai

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Social media creates a platform for bragging; it is where things, events, and even happiness itself seems to be in competition at times. People are comparing their best, picture-perfect experiences, which may lead you to wonder what you are lacking. FOMO, Fear of Missing out is defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events. Research shows that a fear of missing out can stem from unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life and that these feelings can propel us into greater social media usage.


KEYWORDS: Fear of Missing out, Discernment.




As social animals, people tend to have a desire to belong to social groups. Today, these groups exist in both physical and virtual varieties. In either case, the need to understand what members of the group are doing at a particular point in time bears importance to each individual. How important it is, and how motivated one is to find out what others in the group, or on the periphery of the group, are doing varies. Indeed, more attention is being given to this as the numbers of virtual connections individuals have increases3.


The fear of missing out (FOMO) is defined as the “uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you” (JWT Marketing Communications, 2012, p. 4). The phenomenon was first identified in 1996 by Dr. Dan Herman, a marketing strategist, who researched it and published the first academic paper on the topic in 2000 in The Journal of Brand Management.


Fear of missing out (FOMO) is described as "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent" This social anxiety is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing".  In other words, FOMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time since one "can imagine how things could be different5. 3


The fear of missing out (FOMO) has become pervasive in society. Teens and adults text while driving, because the possibility of a social connection is more important than their own lives (and the lives of others). They interrupt one call to take another, even when they don’t know who’s on the other line (but to be honest, we’ve been doing this for years before caller ID)4.


In 2013 the word “FOMO” was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. This clever acronym, which stands for fear of missing out, was coined to describe that anxious feeling that can arise when you feel there is a more exciting prospect that is happening elsewhere and unfortunately, you’re not there1.


Sheva rajee, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, explains that Fundamentally, the fear of missing out is an experience of anxiety at the thought of not being included in an event, not being ‘in the know,’ and a sense of or fear of not living one’s best life. FOMO isn’t considered a mental health disorder the way clinical depression or post-traumatic stress disorder is, “it is caused by a very real set of emotions and carries real effects.” In fact, she says, feeling like you’re being left out is a psychological trait we’ve inherited from our ancient ancestors. For them, being a part of a social group was necessary for survival8.


56% of social media users experience FOMO and most of these people are millennials. About 69% (7 in 10) of millennials experience FOMO on a daily if not hourly basis. 48% of millennials have spent money they didn’t have to keep up with friends, 60% of people make purchases because of FOMO, mostly within 24 hours, 33% of people purposely conduct FOMO among their peers, 45% of people experience FOMO can’t go for longer than 12 hours without checking social media and 20% people can’t go for more than one hour without checking social media. 36% of people are afraid of feeling like an outsider.


In a study by citizen relation, they found that FOMO triggers different emotions in people. 30% of people felt jealousy, 39% of people felt envy, 21% of people felt sad or disappointed2.



1.    Social Media:

Social media platforms can change the social life of an individual both interpersonally and online. Platforms like Face book, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest playing a major role in FOMO. Face book that provokes the most FOMO (72%). Instagram provokes 14% of FOMO, Twitter causes 14% of FOMO and Pinterest around 8%.


2.    Travel:

Outside of the social media platforms, there are certain activities and experiences that are likely to cause FOMO. For instance, travel causes 59% of all FOMO. If you’ve even been on a travel booking website, you might have noticed that FOMO tactics are everywhere.


3.    Events And Parties:

The next main cause of FOMO is events and parties (56%). People might feel less cool if they miss a party—especially when they see pictures on social media from who did attend and are posting pictures on social media.


4.    Food:

Lastly, food is a big cause of FOMO (29%). Food FOMO might sound a little weird, but almost everyone has experienced it7.



1.    Over commitment:

Over committing yourself to the point that you can’t be present anywhere you are because you’re always readying to hop off to the next thing. Over commitment also creates anxiety, not knowing how you’re going to do all you have planned in the day.


2.    Not Committing to anything:

Not committing to anything for fear of losing out on something else. Often times, people who suffer from FOMO never say, “Yes!” or do so last minute, so as to keep options open. This way, they’re always disappointed with what they’re actually doing because that next imaginary great thing never came along.


3.    Engaging in comparison game:

People with FOMO have difficulty focusing on being happy. Instead, they focus on being happier than… The problem is there’s no such thing as being happier than a perfectly curated feed. Someone’s Instagram feed doesn’t necessarily correlate with mood.


4.    Checking the phone often:

Checking your phone every three minutes to make sure you’re not missing anything can create feelings of restlessness, anxiety and distractibility. When FOMO is ruling your brain, you’re unable to live your own life in real life. If there’s a recipe for mood concerns, the inability to be present and a lack of gratitude is it.


5.    Feeling bad for missing Social gathering:

Feeling bad for missing a social gathering, this leads to negative emotions. When sufferers see the snaps and stories on their phones, as they were engaged with other important events, like sit home and study for an exam or take care of their sick mother, many experience feelings of disappointment or even regret.


6.    You feel that you can’t catch up with everyone else:

When everyone seems to have a more amazing life than you, you fall prey to the game of comparisons and jealousy. This, combined with FOMO, can either give you a big push towards getting what you want or make you feel defeated in the invisible competition that life is. After all, you never see the behind the scenes and struggles those friends went through to get what they have or seem to have6.



1.    Admit you have a problem:

Let’s get real, and say it with me: “I cannot be everywhere at all times and always been doing the coolest thing ever. Admitting and accepting that you have anxiety can feel like your secret has been unleashed to the universe and the burden is off your shoulders. You’re acknowledging the insecurity, and with that recognition you can now tackle the problem.


2.     Switch off the chatter:

Turn off your phone, learn to redo your morning without your eyes glued to Instagram and Face book.  It may not be viable to deactivate your social media accounts, but learn to limit your activity. One CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) technique prescribes setting aside a certain time of day to check all your social media outlets.


3.    Practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that refers to a nonjudgmental observation or awareness that is focused on the present experience. Try this mindfulness immersion exercise: Take a mundane daily activity like washing the dishes and try to sense the muscles you use to wash, the scent of the soap, and the feeling of bubbles between your fingers. Rather than multitasking or hurrying up this task to get on to the next one, appreciate your current state of being. Mindfulness can help those with major FOMO enjoy what they are doing in the here and now, instead of yearning for what else could be.


4.    Slow down:

Slow down. Most of us move at a faster pace than is necessary or beneficial to our best interests. Practice taking your time when eating, driving, talking, making love, or engaging in the tasks of everyday living. It can be helpful to post reminders of this intention in prominent places in order to support yourself.


5.    Practice Discernment:

Practice discernment in regard to distinguishing what is truly important and necessary from what is merely desirable, and choose to eliminate some of the things that don’t contribute to the deepening of the quality of your life experience. Be willing to say “no” to more things.


6.    Go for the experience, not the symbol:

There are always going to be people we admire and perhaps envy. It’s “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Envy can easily become resentment if we fail to recognize the opportunities available in our own lives to create experiences that are life-enhancing. Focusing on the experience like, a feeling of accomplishment, adventure, connection, fun, self-respect, freedom that underlies the object or symbol—wealth, marriage, a sports car, a luxurious home helps us distinguish what is truly fulfilling from that which can only provide a temporary feeling of pleasure.


7.    Be willing to not have it all:

Needs are limited. Desires are endless. Accepting the essential futility of trying to fulfill every desire we have is much wiser than indulging all of our impulses for gratification. Prioritizing certain activities enables us to let go of others. Decide what your highest priorities are and focus on them.


8.    Prioritize relationships over acquisitions:

In terms of our well-being, quality relationships trump quantity of possessions and experiences every time. Investing time and energy in relationships, and cultivating the skills that they require, may be one of the best things that we can do to bring higher levels of fulfillment into our lives, which is a wonderful antidote to the compulsive activity that characterizes FOMO.


9.    Savor the moment:

Take time to linger on pleasurable experiences rather than rushing through them in the hunt for the next thrill. Take the time to thoroughly take pleasure in the sensory delights that enter into your field of awareness and cultivate the fine art of savoring the tastes, sights, and other sensations that you encounter in your daily life.


10. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

Instead of chasing fantasies we believe will fulfill us, we can cultivate gratitude. This practice allows us to more deeply appreciate what we have rather than focusing on what we lack or desire. FOMO is fear of not having something that is necessary for our well being. Gratitude allows us to count the blessings in our life right now, in this moment, where life is actually going on.


11. Enjoy the process:

Integrating these practices into your life can be a labour of love and can be experienced as a blessing and an opportunity, rather than a series of obligations. Let yourself take pleasure in the heightened level of relaxation and ease that comes into your life as you gift yourself with these experiences.


12. Stop acting like everything is an emergency:

If you are living and/or working in a reactionary state, or under stressful conditions, you might be used to treating everything like an emergency. It’s not. Instead, choose to under-react, respond thoughtfully, leave the drama and stress out of it. The simple act of giving yourself room to breathe will bring you into the present. From there you can make your decisions based on fact, not fear.



1.     Aarti Gupta,” Tips to get over from FOMO or Fear of missing out”.

2.     Coral Ouellette,”FOMO statistics You Need to Grow Your Business”, October 2019, available from,

3.     Jessica Pabel,, “Social Media and the fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and   Assessment”, Journal of Business and Economics research- first quarter, 2016.Volume 14, No.1.

4.     John M. Grohol, Psy.D,”FOMO Addiction: The Fear of Missing Out”, available from,

5.     Joseph Reagle,

6.     Dr. Lauren Hazzouri,” why do we get fomo? we asked a psychologist” , available from,

7.     Linda and Charlie Bloom, “10 Ways to Overcome Fear of Missing Out”

8.     Tamim alnuweiri, “ Is FOMO a diagnosable mental health condition?”, May 2018, available from,




Received on 27.01.2020       Modified on 23.02.2020

Accepted on 20.03.2020       ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Int.  J. of Advances in Nur. Management. 2020; 8(2):171-174.

DOI: 10.5958/2454-2652.2020.00041.4