fear of feeling left out when everyone is enjoying life

For much of the past two years, social media posts have followed the same booklet: information about the pandemic, advice on what to do while in quarantine, and a call for #stayhome as a strategy to fight coronavirus. Covid-19. But with the vaccination and the consequent improvement of the epidemiological scenario, life returned to what it was before, with parties, events, trips – and also with the FOMO syndrome. Acronym for Fear of Missing Out, something like “fear of being left behind”, the term refers to the anxiety felt when it feels like everyone around you is enjoying life except you.

The psychologist Anna Lucia King, doctor in mental health and coordinator of the Delete laboratory of the Institute of Psychiatry of the UFRJ, explains that FOMO generally affects the most precarious people, with low self-esteem and high emotional dependence, who end up being more vulnerable to the opinions of others and, in particular, to the content published on social networks.

— But these networks are more about ‘appearing’ than ‘being’. What counts there is the image, not the reality. So people show a life where everything is wonderful, with beautiful relationships, incredible parties, an image that does not always correspond to the reality of their life. And that tends to make these more vulnerable people feel excluded from this “wonderful” background, with feelings of sadness and anguish – says King.

In this scenario of comparison with “perfect” portraits of the lives of others, the pandemic – and its improvement – ​​can have an even stronger impact on FOMO, points out psychiatrist Aderbal Vieira Júnior, coordinator of the behavioral addiction outpatient clinic of the Orientation Program and assistance to dependents of Unifep.

“This phenomenon is a little more obvious precisely because people went through a period when everyone looked a little alike. So, all of a sudden, you start seeing your colleagues posting photos of trips, parties, events, and the impact is greater because the idea is that I “owe” myself two years of life. and, when I see that the colleague began to pay this debt before me, it causes even greater anxiety – explains the specialist.

Term included in the dictionary

The FOMO syndrome, although today linked to psychological anxieties and mental health problems, was created in a corporate context. Indeed, many advertising strategies use this sense of feeling “out there” to convince your target audience to make a certain purchase or go to a certain event, for example.

The first official mention of the term appeared in 2000. In the following years, FOMO had repercussions of a broader approach until it was incorporated into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. At the time, it was defined as “a feeling of worry that an exciting or interesting event is happening elsewhere”. Over time, it has become the focus of psychology as a relevant concept in studies related to mental health and social relationships.

A study by researchers from the Departments of Psychology at the University of Essex in the UK and the Universities of California and Rochester in the US defines sentiment as a generalized apprehension that others may have rewarding experiences, which he is absent, and a desire to remain continually connected with what they do.

Additionally, researchers at the Clarion Psychiatric Center in the United States found that FOMO was linked to consequences such as inattention, decreased productivity, sleep disturbances, deterioration in academic performance, and increased risk of anxiety disorders and depression.

Those responsible for the study consider that being inserted into large online communities can be a risk factor for the development of the syndrome. They explain that the networks encourage people to constantly compare themselves to others, a behavior that generates frustration, envy, jealousy, resentment and other emotions considered negative — hallmarks of FOMO.

The first step is to reduce the time spent on the networks

For American scientists, the first step towards improving the image is the restriction of time spent on the networks and the understanding that online content does not reflect real life. It is this idea that motivated the emergence of a concept in response to FOMO: JOMO. The acronym means Joy of Missing Out, or “happiness of being left out”, in Portuguese, and celebrates disconnection, attention to the present moment and the pleasure of small things and the company itself.

According to the Oxford dictionary definition, JOMO is characterized by “liking to spend free time doing what you want, without worrying that something more interesting is happening elsewhere”. The concept gained traction after Canadian Christina Crook wrote a book on the subject chronicling her own experience of a month without the internet.

Anna Lucia King of Instituto Delete points out that the first step in changing FOMO to JOMO is to adopt habits that promote conscious use of networks.

— People who suffer from the excessive use of technology must put limits on their day. So reduce the time you use the devices, use them for work only during working hours, avoid access to them during meals and do not use them for at least an hour before going to bed. These are techniques to use properly in everyday life, he says.

Aderbal Vieira Júnior also points out that it is important to keep in mind that what is published on the networks is only an edited extract of the best moments in real life, so it should not be compared to life. daily.

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