Patricia Lynn Belkowitz, M.Msc., C.Ht., EFT

homer fomo


Have you heard of FoMO? It means “Fear of Missing Out”. Perhaps you or someone you know suffers from this. I notice it all the time. Although it’s been around since time began, it’s become quite rampant in our society. We are actively programming our children to participate in the behavior. Remember, children learn what they live.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term RSVP. You’ve most likely seen it on a formal invitation to a party or event. It is French for “Respondez Sil Vous Plait”, which translates to “please respond”. Its purpose is to allow the host to plan for the appropriate number of guests. It simply insures there is enough food and drink for everyone to enjoy; and a big enough space to accommodate the party. The proper thing to do is to respond with your intentions and to do it in a timely manner. It is the considerate and courteous thing to do. Lately, FoMO has taken its’ toll on RSVP! People hesitate to respond or make a commitment just in case something better comes along. We don’t want to miss out! We can’t commit until all options have been considered.

Dr. Dan Herman, who coined the term FoMO says “FoMO is experienced as a clearly fearful attitude towards the possibility of failing to exhaust available opportunities and missing the expected joy associated with succeeding in doing so. Simply put, it is concentration of attention on the empty half of the glass.”

With everyone equipped with a mobile device and access to social media such as Facebook and Instagram, we are immediately aware of all the options that are available to us. Communication is on a 24/7 basis. We worry that we don’t have the time or money to take advantages of the opportunities. FoMO has evolved in the past century because of several recent ideologies such as feminism and capitalism. We have the ability to choose based on our sense of self-worth. We are busy pursuing careers, family life and social activities. We actively pursue hobbies. We move around, relocating to new places, exploring new possibilities. We are quick to respond to opportunities and easily adopt to new technology, upgrading on a regular basis. Our lives are spent constantly on the lookout for new experiences and instant gratification.

Dr. Herman’s research shows that approximately 70% of all adults experience FoMO to various degrees. Coping well with FoMO can lead to positive behaviors which impact financial and social success. Almost 30% of FoMO sufferers cope well with it. They are able to use it in a positive manner. About 25% of those are somewhat unhappy with their lives but manage to function well. Sadly, a little over 15% of those are miserable; unable to cope effectively with the fear.

I’m a little afraid of FoMO. I think it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember, you always get what you are thinking about. You manifest what you focus upon. When you are busy trying to exhaust all options, you can miss out on everything! Life is happening in the now moment. FoMO creates paralysis about the future. It creates indecision and doubt. When you are driven by FoMO, you are unable to commit to anything or anyone. Every commitment means you are giving up something else…and maybe its better. Perseverance is non-existent. Life is completely out of control.

I recently had the experience of visiting with a friend. Although I know she was very happy to be present, she was anxious about what else was happening. She didn’t want to miss out! She needed to check her Facebook feed whenever she was prompted. She needed to read posts. She needed to post what she was doing. She needed to respond to text messages. She needed to keep track of the scores for her favorite team. She needed to read her email. What she needed to do was to relax and put the phone down!!!!!!  There is a lot of pressure to keep up. And there is no need to do so. I invite you to step away from the addiction to know about everything that is going on in the world. If you focus on what matters to you, you won’t be missing out on anything. If you focus on what is happening in your inner world… rather than the world outside of yourself… you will not miss out on anything.

There is an ad running now on TV where a family loses their internet service for a minute. Everyone exhibits stress. The young girl glumly states, “Something has just happened in the world and we have no idea what it was.” Most of the time when something is happening somewhere in the world, it doesn’t matter. All the time when something is happening in your world, it does matter. Pay attention. You are creating what you fear. You are missing out. You’re focusing on the empty half of the glass.