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FOMO: What we're missing when we're worrying about missing out

Photo illustration by Alexandra Floersch / The Forum1 / 3
Photo illustration by Alexandra Floersch / The Forum2 / 3
Alexandra Floersch, Life at 20-something columnist3 / 3

FARGO — Phone in hand, we scroll through our social media feeds to find 50 things to do this weekend. Frantically, we click "interested" so others will know our schedule is fully loaded with music, culture, art and a plethora of exhilarating activities. On Friday night, we may be sitting at home in our PJs but at least our social feeds are happening.

That is, until the itch of this contagious condition takes hold — FOMO. While not nearly as serious as history's most devastating plagues, the fear of missing out cannot cure itself. There are no vaccinations to prevent it or treatments to curb its paralyzing effects.

In 2017, we believe our lives are only as vivid as they appear on the internet. We post, and post some more — yearning to paint a picture of perfection, a life well lived.

But it's in these attempts that we are inundated by thousands of other statuses, beautifully filtered Instagram photos and updated Facebook "life events." The fear of missing out becomes more potent with each minute spent on these addicting networks.

We develop an irrational fear of missing events, occasions, opportunities or something so amazing it might change everyone's life — except ours, because we weren't there to experience it. Social media fuels the fire: We see it, we read it, we can almost taste it. We want to be there.

To avoid missing out, we let our friends pull us out of bed for a night on the town even when our bodies are running dangerously low on energy. We tag along to unappealing concerts, coworkers' birthday parties and neighbors' weddings because what if true love awaits us in the most unexpected places? We worry, "How might my fate change if I don't participate just this one time?"

It's in these moments — when our bodies yearn for rest and our brain needs time to recover — that we imagine our lives without cell phones and social media. We humor a world where meeting up with family would require timely planning. Seeing friends would be but utter coincidence.

We ask ourselves, "Might I really die if I'm not connected? Or would it enable me to live my life without comparing it to everyone else's?"

In the age of social media and technology, we often forget that the reality of or peers' lives on social media are often exaggerated. We post photos of our best days and statuses about our most vulnerable moments. But often we forget to share what lies in between — life's everyday norm.

We become so focused on everyone else's big moments that we forget to celebrate our own. There's that trip we took with family, a blissful night with friends around the campfire and a mother-daughter movie date that's more healing than an hour with a therapist.

We forget to look back on our lives and count the moments that matter, the fun we've had and the "life events" that we can claim ourselves.

The next time we are fretting with FOMO, we should remind ourselves that life's better spent in the present. When we're busy worrying about missing out, the only thing we're missing is the life we aren't living.

Alexandra Floersch

Alexandra Floersch has worked for Forum Communications since February 2015. She is a content producer and photographer who enjoys writing about finance, fashion and home.

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