Do you suffer from FOMO?

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There is a mental health issue spawned by Facebook called FOMO. Fear of Missing Out.

FOMO is a serious condition. Do you know the signs?

When you see people posting about how happy they are, how much they love their children or husbands, or how much they like some toy or product, if you aren't experiencing these same joys, you can become jealous, bitter, and depressed.

You scroll through your Facebook newsfeed. On and on they go, bragging about their adventures, vacations, parties, and wild times. But you're broke or sick or otherwise unable to share in such things. You feel inferior. You feel cheated. You start to envy them.

You've got FOMO.

FOMO can strike anyone at anytime.

FOMO occurs when people talk on Facebook about a tech conference they're attending. You couldn't make it. You feel left out. Or when people speak of a fantastic restaurant they dined at, complete with photos of the food. You can't afford to dine at such a fancy joint. You feel like your life is not as rich and resplendent as theirs.

An extreme form of FOMO is when you are so obsessed with the fun, success, and happiness of others, you compulsively check your text messages, emails, and Facebook all day and all night, every day and every night.

You dread not knowing about activities that you think are totally fulfilling. You can't stand being out of the loop on the latest gossip and quarrels.

Facebook has a grip on you that you simply cannot escape. If you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, you impulsively reach for your smart phone and check on what's going on. You lug your mobile device everywhere you go, in great fear to be disconnected.

You have entirely forgotten the good old days when you did things in silence, without interruption, and actually use your mind to imagine, ponder, and plan. Discontent settles in. You think that what you're doing right now is far less exciting or interesting than what others are doing.

You don't stop to consider that people tend to post about the best things in their lives and often exaggerate, due to being drunk or temporarily ecstatic. You don't witness the ugly, boring, stupid things in the lives of others, because they typically refrain from communicating such things. All you mostly see are the good things, the happy images, the achievements — and you grow weary of being you.

You may feel okay about your own life — until you go to Facebook and watch the endless parade of success, enthusiasm, and opportunities that are passing you by. The more you scroll, the worse FOMO gets. It grows within you like a cancer. It eats you up inside. FOMO is destroying you.

You suddenly have a moment of truth. You realize in an instant you've become immature, dependent, insecure. Like a pampered crybaby, you whine inside and moan about how much better everybody else's life is compared to yours.

Your fear of missing out has enslaved you and there is no rehab clinic to set you free with expensive therapy. You are a pawn in the flux of messages, announcement, photos, and celebrations. Your life seems miserable, hollow, worthless in comparison.

You can't keep up with all the events and experiences that others are wallowing in, but you try anyway. You must keep trying. You cannot give up. You're enmeshed.

You may even die from FOMO if you're so sick with this disease that you have to check your smart phone while you're driving your car, get distracted by a text or Facebook update, and get in a fatal collision.

The only known cure for FOMO is disconnection and contemplation, in silence and solitude, on the real blessings in your life. Being thankful, away from Facebook, for all the wonderful things that you experience is the antidote to the FOMO virus.

Put down your smart phone, close your laptop, shove aside your tablet, walk away from your PC. Step out into the immediate experience of what you've got going for you now. Appreciate your life, your family, your past, present, and future. Get to know, like never before, how truly fortunate you are, without needing to compare and contrast your life with the highlights of the lives of others.

Post a photo of that bowl of Ramen noodles or that peanut butter and raspberry preserves sandwich you had for lunch. Be proud of it. Rave about how satisfying it is.

Accentuate the little things that are luxuries and extravagant opulence to impoverished people of the world.

The fact that you're alive is enough. If you're also in fairly good health, not in prison, not in a mental asylum, not homeless — you've got an elevated status. Your husband isn't beating you every day? Your teenage son has not tried to shoot you? Your job pays the bills? You have a lot to rejoice in.

FOMO doesn't have to cripple and corrupt you until you drown in total and irrevocable despair. Learn to be happy seeing others happy, but don't let their triumphs cause you to denigrate the beautiful life that you're living. While you were envying others, many of them may have been envying you.

About the Author
Steven Streight is a man of many skills. He’s a talented writer, web content developer, internet marketing consultant and photographer. He’s a trustee on the Peoria Historical Society, a member of SCORE Peoria and the author of the Peoria technology history book, “Bicycle Fever.” In his downtime, he’s hangs out with his beloved Min Pin and tries to get some rest. Considering how involved he is in the community, it sounds like he could use as much as he can get.