How to overcome the fear of missing out (in five easy steps)

FOMO is a famous acronym in the acronym-rich tech culture of today. FOMO is the fear of missing out.

The fear of missing out is what prompts many of us to do many of the things we do.

The fear of missing out is, in large part, responsible for the viral loop which has seen Facebook become one of the biggest companies in history and made it Public Enemy Number One for many people who feel (not without justification) that the combination of its unsettlingly uncharistmatic CEO, its desperate drive for profit and the compulsive daily use of many of its 2.5 billion users is an existential threat to modern society.

When Facebook was starting out in the frat buildings of American universities in the mid-2000s, the fear of missing out on a place in The Face Book compelled people to sign up in droves.

And the more who signed up, the more who were destined to sign up. Because, the fear of missing out.

The fear of missing out is folly, though.

Because one cast-iron certainty of life is that you will miss out on a countless number things.

Every little thing you choose to do, you are missing out on an endless number of other things you could have chosen to do.

When you understand that the fear of missing out is the modern manifestation of an ancient, almost pre-human part of your brain, which was designed to ensure your safety, security and survival, you begin to realise that it is something you can safely ignore.

And FOMO can be overcome.

How to Overcome the Fear of Missing Out (in 5 easy steps)

  1. Notice the fear (because noticing our thoughts is one of the foundational principles of cognitive behavioral therapy)
  2. Call it what it is, aloud (because voicing something has a way of disarming it)
  3. Write it down (because writing things down makes them more real and less intimidating)
  4. Acknowledge that it is the manifestation of an ancient part of your brain (because evolutionary psychology is a real thing)
  5. Laugh about it (because laughter about oneself, especially the things that are outside our control, like our ancient brains, is a building block for great humility, and humility derails FOMO like almost nothing else)