How to quieten FOMO (The Fear Of Missing Out) to nurture your own voice
I have talked to a lot of women since Covid19 caused our first countrywide lockdown, a taster of the enormous challenges to come. Throughout, the one thing we have all shared is our human need to feel connected and included. But to fight isolation and loneliness, we now spend 50% more time on social media than ever before, according to "The Sprout Social Index". Which puts us at much higher risk of experiencing FOMO The Fear Of Missing Out. Feeling disconnected, excluded and anxious is definitely not what we were looking for online.
A recent study* by the University of Naples showed that during the pandemic it was women, alongside younger adults, who engaged most in social media and experienced the most negative feelings too.
In fairness, FOMO may not have been women's biggest challenge, but it is well recognised phenomenon that can now affect all of us. Even me. Having shielded at home all this time, with a lung disease that put me in the most vulnerable group, the connectivity of social media hasn't always been a blessing.
It has been such a confusing time for bloggers and active social media users with a heartfelt and authentic message. Not only do you spend precious time writing and crafting your posts, you look for more than social connection online. You engage to attract readers and you want to make a difference.
When the grass looks greener
It can be so easy to look at others out of sheer curiosity. And that’s when it happens. You see more 'likes' or comments on their posts making your own efforts look feeble in comparison. Before you know it, you wonder what you’re doing wrong and if anyone is interested in you. You may even lose confidence in your own voice.
Which is a shame because we often forget that what we see online is but a snapshot of someone else's reality. Most people try to gloss over any negative experiences to paint a rosier picture of themselves. Whilst this may not be fake, it could be manicured in ways you cannot see.
It probably isn't our fault either. Social media has always fostered a culture of relentless positivity. Even more so now.
How do you know whether you feel more susceptible to the wrong kind of messages? Is it just down to envy?
Have you ever bought anything online, like a course, that you later realised you didn't need or was a complete waste of money? Think back. What was it that made you worry about missing out if you don’t buy? Can you see any warning signs?
FOMO the Fear Of Missing Out makes everything harder!
Of course sometimes it is hard to know. And it is ok to have blind spots. We all have them, and the pandemic hasn't exactly made things easier.
When it first started my social feeds were full of emotionally charged political and pandemic news. I felt stressed and overwhelmed trying to keep up with it all, especially the real news and facts. And sometimes even the blog posts from my favourite people.
Then we were told to diversify, to create new services, podcasts and lead magnets, perhaps even write a book. To try 'Lives' and Stories, as well as Reels on Instagram. And whilst we were at it, to plan our Instagram grid with more purpose.
There has been more urgency for bloggers to 'do all the right things' on social media. FOMO the Fear of Missing Out is rife when we feel under pressure. Life can be challenging enough without it!
Try to redirect your attention
The online world will always be full of deafening noise. You just want to get better at filtering out what is bad for you. And make space for what nourishes you.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- What do I ultimately want to get out of social media? (You can break it down by platform if you wish)
- How will I gain from quietening my FOMO? What will this enable me to do?
- How do I want to feel when I participate online?
- What will I do differently when I reach for my phone or open a social media app?
By focusing on your own needs FOMO will start to lose its power. And it works. I saw a few Facebook friends rave about Clubhouse recently (an innovative invitation-only social platform), and for a brief moment I felt that familiar twinge. Couldn't I be part of the action too? I knew immediately this was more than genuine curiosity. Hello FOMO, The Fear of Missing Out!
I reminded myself that I didn't have a meaningful reason to join Clubhouse and that I had nothing to prove either. I'm not the geeky school girl any more that didn't get invited to the coolest birthday parties. So FOMO came and went.
Calm FOMO to nurture your own voice
I posted a quote on Instagram around that time about not chasing things that are "beneath the truth of who you are". Not surprisingly my readers agreed.
Social media has changed so much in the last 12 months that it pays to be mindful of how FOMO impacts you now.
Nobody should feel the need to keep up or to measure up to others! What we do need, is more women who move beyond comparison and fear. Women who appreciate their own value and show up as their authentic selves.
Once you create a space for you and let your readers and followers peek into your less than perfect life, you give out the strongest message of all: You do not need to be like others and you certainly don't need a heavily curated story either.
You can just be yourself. Because you are enough!
As Tony Robbins once said, "Energy flows where attention goes". Perhaps there is no time like now to reaffirm your own value and energise your own voice!
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PS. This post is to commemorate International Women's Day 2021 in a blogging challenge hosted by AttractReaders.