The Fomo Attack

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Do you feel that you missed out on an out-of-the world adventure when you see a picture of your gang of
friends pose against the background of the Swiss Alps? Or a snorkeling trip they took in New Zealand? Did two
of them hike their way up to see The Valley of Flowers in India? Or went for an exotic cheese tasting expedition
in Europe? Do you naturally sulk about being left out? Do you feel like that always despite having an eventful
holiday yourself? Even if you didn’t and you are perfectly content at home watching Netflix with your family, a
random FB post appears and you can’t help feeling anxious on how the world has it better than you and you
have missed out on all the fun? Then you are probably suffering from what is called FoMo – the fear of missing
out syndrome that is hugely fuelled by social media.

“If it is not a vacation, people are constantly peeping into their friend’s social media posts to see where they partied and who they met and why they weren’t invited to those parties. It borders around voyeurism where
someone else’s life always appears more exciting to yours and you feel the need to match up,” says Jamila Firdaus, a psychologist. This results in anxiety, feeling left out, getting even with people who haven’t invited you
and the outrage on social media pours out. It could range from being not invited to parties, private dinners, events, concerts, networking evenings or even staying connected online – FOMO is a serious issue today and while we may laugh at it, it is something to ponder about says Manju Ramanan

Gate Crashers

This high-on-immunity breed feels entitled to be invited to every event where they need to be seen. So if the
invite doesn’t arrive, they ensure that they would surely do. And if the host is polite, they get away even if they
are spotted. But they are the first who make it to the ‘Most Ridiculous’ list in office whatsapp groups. So, if the public shaming doesn’t really happen, they become the butt of jokes and entertainment. What fun!

Self – Invitation

This trait requires you to have zero ego issues. You call up the target organization and ask to be invited. And if you know people there, start sending them messages to get an invitation. It is easier if you don’t care about what people think of your phone call or your desperation in getting invited. And you use all your emotional tools to
secure it. Rank, power, relationships, powerful friends or other invited guests which brings us to the next category…

Be the Plus One

It is the easiest way to enter a space that hasn’t exactly invited you. Fish out your closest contact that has an invite to the place and tag along as a plus one. You might have to avoid the host but so be it. It doesn’t really matter as long as you have a job accomplished. And this group shows slight really well. They will never forget to
take a selfie at the event and surely tell the world that they were there and omit out where they were. The name and venue and organisers are also cleverly omitted from social media posts. And yes, the event is often also reported as flawed. Or not good enough! Sour grapes and sweet revenge!

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Chat –Stalking

This is the easiest way to stalk someone to get invited at an event. You have to be very vigilant for this one. First you have to see whether the target people are online. And when they are online, grab them. Go for the kill! First, compliment them – usually their recent Fb post, their appearance, their children etc and then come to the point.
“ I usually know what the third line of an FB chat is leading to. The pleasantries are exchanged and then the agenda is set,” Bina Mathai (name changed) a journalist. Mathai feels that she is half expecting the chat to
pop up because suddenly the uninvited start liking and commenting on her posts. Quite a lot of psychology to social media behavior!

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Of Un-friending and Passive Aggression

Like in real life, this is an online cold shoulder. If the chat stalking doesn’t work, the result could be un-friending too. Or sly comments on social media on the nature of the event. “Most people have a defined sense of self-importance and cannot take rejection well. So, it manifests itself in this manner – brusque behavior, mind games, getting even etc. There is a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. FoMo is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one, might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events. In other words, FoMo perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as “you can imagine how things could be different” says sociologist Sakshi Mehta.

According to Elmarie van Heerden, Personal Development Trainer, “ We can tackle these sorts of feelings instead of avoiding them altogether. We can change ‘Fear of Missing Out’, to ‘Free to have Fun on my own’. Keep the balance! Limit yourself to visiting social websites and if you read or see the perfect social cameo, realize that you do not have all the information about it. Be aware that people choose to put information out on social media in a very selective way, wanting you, the observer, to notice only the one side of who they are and what they do. It is rare that people will disclose how lonely, afraid or excluded they feel.

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Miscellaneous…

FOMO also triggers off reverse snobbery wherein the uninvited guest rejects the event he is targeting brushing it off as beneath him or her. “ It is funny that I have had people stating that they have 3 parties to attend the same event and are happy that they haven’t been invited to the fourth one. Schedules to dark circles for staying awake till late are cited as reasons for the slight,” says a party regular. There have been times she states, “ People send you invites to their own events that collide with your own so that, owing to courtesy, you invite them. The efforts are many and very innovative,” she adds.

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Teens and FoMo

In 2013, the word ‘FoMo’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. FoMo is prevalent in teens that are highly anxious that ‘everyone’s’ chatting about an Instagram or FB post and he or she were the last to discover. Or, ‘everyone’s’ hanging out at a party house and they were excluded. Or, ‘the others’ have received a hundred ‘likes’ to their posts; they only received a couple of them. On social media, everyone’s flaunting what they’re doing, where they are and their posts are full of excitement and exclamation marks! But the same extends to people of all age groups as well today.

According to Wikipedia, Fear of missing out or FoMo has been defined as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social angst is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. FoMo is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event. In other words, FoMo perpetuates the fear that we have made the wrong decision on how to spend our time, as you can imagine how things could be different.

Do we have an online solution then?
If you can’t just unplug and tech detox, there is help nearby! The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world. The National Day of Unplugging is on March 3-4, 2017. People across the world join to take the pledge to unplug from technology regularly. Do check out NationalDayofUnplugging.com

Use software to avoid succumbing to FoMo. Apps such as Moment for is, Break Free for Android, Rescue Time for Windows, or Self-control for Mac generate reports to help users see just how much time they spend online and set time limits.

For those who need more radical solutions, Internet-blocking software Freedom or browser extensions such as Website Blocker or WasteNoTime block sites that cause unwanted distractions.

Or enroll in a digital detox camp. The Internet is filled with more and enough destinations. Camps where adults get in touch with their pre-smartphone selves by playing capture the flag, gazing at the stars, writing songs, and engaging in analog pursuits like print photography and wood working. Rules are simple: No work talk, no watches, no outside food and of course, no digital technology!

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