Few words about FOMO effect

We live in busy times and often look for something to slow down, even if only a bit. Today I would like to raise the issue of FOMO: fear of miss out. Some people think it is a new phenomenon, but also limit it to only one activity. Last time I made some observations and had additional thoughts about that. Unfortunately, these thoughts are not optimistic: it looks like we have to face this a lot more often than we think. Fortunately, there are many options to handle this issue. 

Social Media

Most people think that the principal reason for the FOMO effect is social media. I think it is not true, but this effect is the most visible probably right there. It is because a lot of social media have been created (and are still developed) to bring our attention, our time. Such services are not free. We do not have to pay using dollars, we pay using our time and information about us we share with service providers. Many of our friends use the same social media like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter so it is very easy to check what they are doing, what they achieve etc. Most of these platforms also offer chat so everyone can send us messages quickly. As a result, the risk of the FOMO effect is very high: we are more and more dependent on the platform and we can think that everything is important, we should know about all these updates on feeds. Of course, it is not true.

Solution 

I will not write “just do not use social media, remove your Facebook account”. It is simple, but I think it is better to treat such platforms like a hammer – a tool for nailing, but nothing more. I like the marketplace; I use some groups (especially local communities) and follow local events. For that, social media can be helpful. On the other hand, I stopped following most of my “friends” – in quotes, because I do not often have contact with most of them. For me, it does not make any sense to know what they are doing. I also removed social media apps (including messenger, whatsapp etc.) from my phone and informed all important people: if there will be something urgent, call me. Do not write on chat and wait for a reply, because I do not know when I will read your message.

TV and news websites

You can find the FOMO effect also on TV and new websites. I live in Poland, and the war in the Ukraine was a “great example” of how it works. All media, all news websites informed about the course of the war, all the time. It was normal, Ukraine is very close, just abroad. We all followed this news and also wanted to help, but if we still and still and still watch TV or read news only to “keep all things in touch”… it does not make sense. We as individual people cannot stop the war, we cannot impact it in any way, but we can still feel that we should know about everything. Why?

Solution
Do watch TV and do not read news websites all the time. In reality, we should do this as little as possible, because most of the news is negative (to bring attention). For people addicted to news, it may be “brutal”, but the fact is we cannot do much. On the other hand, we can still live, care about our families and work. It is more important.  

Knowledge

What about personal development? The current world is a real rat’s race, but if we join it without thinking, we will be just stupid. I made a lot of mistakes and I think I wasted a lot of time. Example: I decided to learn Spanish and tried a few different ways, flashcards, music, writing something in this language etc. It was fine, it was something new but after time I still cannot say that I can speak Spanish. Why? Because I was learning without real usage, without practice. There was no opportunity or need to go to Spain. Of course, it was not totally wasted time, but I could have spent it in different ways and learned something closer, more necessary. Why did I do that? Because I felt that all people around me are doing something “for the future” and I also should do that.

Solution

Do not learn unnecessary things. Yes, I know, it is hard to say what is necessary and what is not necessary, but see this example: maybe you are a JavaScript developer. You can learn TypeScript and more JS to improve your current abilities, your current position, or you can spend the same time learning Java “by the way”, without a good plan. What will give you real benefits? If you want to change work and move to Java, then it is fine, but if there is only a small chance like “maybe in the future I will be a Java engineer”, then it does not make any sense. It is only an example, but fits to the overall knowledge. Life is too short to be a master of everything. 

Investing

We can observe the FOMO effect also while investing or saving. Last month we could observe high NTF and cryptocurrencies popularity. I am not a big fan of them, because in many places it is just a scam, like Tulip mania during Dutch Golden Age. I understand how it works, but I do not see real value, even if the US dollar also does not have real value right now (that’s true since the U.S. government broke away from the gold standard). Sometimes I feel that I make a mistake by not spending more time on NFTs and crypto… a lot of people I know do that and they often talk about these topics – it may be encouraging and skipping that may be a problem for a lot of us. I prefer a “more stable” investment option, even if it means lover revenues. 

Solution

Do not care about other people and what they are doing. You should create your investment plan and do not change it often. Changes means you are not stable. Also, just look at for example Forex stats: 95% of people lose most of their capital in a short period of time! Second thing: if you do not understand some aspects like NFT, do not try them. It is possible that even your neighbor invests in NFTs, but it is also possible that he does not understand them and real risk. Think about the risk you can accept and use only things in your “comfort zone”. Really, it is a better option for money you earned by hard work. 

Sport, hobby

More than a year ago I wrote that I removed my Strava account. After some time, I created it again… and then I removed it again. Right now, I do not use it and do not see any reasons to come back. For many people it is just a training tool – and it is fine. I do not need Strava, because I use my device sport platform, it provides me with more accurate and more helpful data. Other people want to observe friends or inspire based on different activities. We can use this example also on other hobbies. There is nothing wrong with inspiration from time to time, but what if we do something only because… other people do that? For me it does not make any sense and I decided to follow my own path – I have my goals, I want to try many different things, so I do not need external motivation. Also, comparing yourself to others does not make sense: it is always better to compare your current results with your previous results. Then you can talk about progress, changes etc.

Solution

If you have your goals in sport or other hobbies and follow different people, it is fine. If you build your goals based on different people’s activities then it is strange. Remember that you have only one life. It is not a game, you cannot save a game, try one option, then load and try different. If you will rely only on 

Work

After the pandemic a lot of us worked remotely. It is very comfortable and has a lot of advantages, but there are also downsides, similar to social media. We should rely on emails and also chat apps like Teams or Slack. Is it fine if we use them as help, but not as super important things? Most of the time, there are a lot of topics to discuss and there will be a lot of processes that are running without your participation. It may cause FOMO effect and additional stress.  

Solution

Work in async way as much as possible. You do not have to know about everything in your company, or even in your team. If someone sends you some questions, it will not ruin the world to send answers after a few hours, really. If possible, do not use work tools on your phone. Quick example: it is Friday evening; you want to rest but you will check your work email or chat… It is very possible that you will read about something important, and you will think about a solution, real rest will not be possible. Remember that it is not like working in a factory. You cannot bring machines from the factory to your home, but with office work, you will always carry your head, brain and all things inside with you. 

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