Conquer the Fear of Missing Out

The Prairie Editorial Staff

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Ever since medieval sheepherders first built fences, the grass has always looked greener on the other side (okay, we might be stretching our historical boundaries just a bit).

However, since the rise of Instagram filters, Snapchat stories, Facebook updates and more, the fear of missing out, known among many millennials as FOMO, has reached epidemic levels. Ending this phenomenon entirely is impossible, but ending this fear on a personal basis requires a mindset of daily choice.

FOMO steals from the joy of the moment. It competes with silence and whispers that the world must be better somewhere else. It exploits our human tendencies toward overwhelming curiosity, loneliness and envy. While waiting for the movie to start, we debate whether we would have had more fun on the trip to the bowling alley. During a trip home to see our parents, we wonder what events and memories we missed back on campus. In times of rest, we are unsatisfied because we could be experiencing a night of excitement. Maybe you’re wondering what Netflix binge-watching joys you could be missing out on during the very minutes taken to read this article.

Social media creates a harmful and false vaccine to our fears of missing out. We reason that seeing the events and fun of other people’s lives will make us feel as though we are a part of it, but instead, it can often make us feel like a hopeless outsider. Even in time spent with friends or during a peaceful evening alone, we often rate our enjoyment based on the number of likes and comments on our #bff selfies or our carefully-framed, hipster cappuccino pictures.

When deciding whether to spend a night with homework or a night out on the town, weigh your choices based on the opportunity cost. Besides finally finding a use for that term you learned during your high school economics class, the opportunity cost demonstrates what opportunity you will lose by making one decision over the other. The opportunity cost of a night with homework is the chance of missing out on memories with friends, while the opportunity cost of a night with friends may mean a lower grade on the next morning’s exam.

It may be helpful to picture how you will feel both during and after both choices and compare which would be more valuable. For each decision, there are times when the objective gained is worth the opportunity cost, and whichever choice you make, you must be confident in your decision and determine never to question whether you chose the wrong option. You must be confident enough in your relationships to opt for a night of homework sometimes, and you must be confident enough in your decision-making to ditch your textbooks occasionally for a night of memories.

No matter the choices you make – don’t let the fear of missing out keep you from enjoying the moment.

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