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FOMO Fear of Missing out ... on reality?

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not of hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a social anxiety stemmed from the belief that others might be having fun while the person experiencing the anxiety is not present. It is the desire to stay continually connected to what others are doing. FOMO is also defined as a fear of regret, or loss, which may lead to concerns that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, thing or a profitable investment. It is the fear that deciding not to participate is the wrong choice.

It’s certainly not a good thing. And it leads you to check social media again and again and again so you don’t feel out of the loop. So you know you’re doing okay. So you don’t feel left out.

Social media is at the core of it.

Social media is an addiction and the problem in our culture is presenting “the app’s” as a necessity to participate in everyday life. Moreover, the idea that social media is helpful is not true. Don’t get me wrong there are values and benefits to the use of social media with a casual managing of your apps.

The Challenge: Take inventory of your apps and websites. All the apps, news sources, and yes entertainment sites (Youtube, Pornhub, or the Google machine.)

· First, take inventory.

· Second, (casual manage) – chose 2-3 apps or sites to take a week break from.

· Third, explore and learn the relationship you have with them throughout your time away.

False expectations

The FOMO is also created through a false sense of expectations. Our culture is in deep with leading an insanely, over the top life with a desire to push the envelope of experiences. Be it the perfection of a picture, to sharing the next thing planned on your agenda, and of course who can’t forget everyone taking pictures of what they ate- again…

The combination of social pressure and in congruent personal expectations has gotten away from us.

The Challenge: Write about 3 things that you are proud of… Accomplishments you planned to do and completed.

The Antidote: Finding contentment in reconnecting to your story

The vision of a Buddhist monk high up in the mountains, under a tree, eyes shut is a classic version of contentment. You are in the day-to-day grind and I want to encourage micro exploring contentment.

The Challenge: Where are you content? When are you most content? What parts of your life are you content? How do you feel when you are content?

Remember the positive. The feeling of comparison can be overwhelming and extremely daunting. Research has shown there is an undeniable link between social media use, negative mental health, and low self-esteem. While social media platforms have their benefits, using them too frequently can make people feel increasingly unhappy and isolated. These negative emotional reactions are not only produced due to the social pressure of sharing things with others, but also the comparison of material things and lifestyles these sites promote.

I want to leave you with the idea that by learning to casually manage and create boundaries with your devices can enable you to engage in a healthier life and more productive view of your mental health.

By doing this digital detox it will bring awareness to your daily routine. It should not stress you out. It is designed to also validate you. Furthermore, a gentle reminder to empower yourself to do something or if you are feeling FOMO change your behavior, it’s not all that bad. Detox, just give it a chance and more importantly continue to find peace within yourself, and ultimately challenge yourself to shift your relationship with your digital devices.

Consider talking to family and friends about the way you look at your relationship to the digital world.Stop the Stigma and start the conversation.

Dr. Ryan Westrum runs both groups and does individual counseling surrounding the addiction to the internet and social media.

If you or your family is struggling with social media or Internet addiction, you should consult your doctor or talk to a therapist. Dr. Ryan Westrum is a licensed family therapist and clinical psychologist. You can reach him at or by going to his website at


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