Saturday, May 21, 2016

FOMO - "Fear of Missing Out" and Facebook Deactivation

Originally published at Viewspaper

Few days back, I got this below forward message in whats app and it got me thinking. Actually it got me in a deep self introspection mode.

"Do you know FOMO? Psychologists coined this term recently... It is the feeling that some one else is having more fun or doing something better than you.This fear is often aroused by seeing exciting posts on social media of what other people do!"
FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out

Every word in the above forward message stands true. It stood so true for me that I had to deactivate my Facebook account. In the crowded social network with millions of updates per day, I am sure no one would have noticed that I was missing from there. Other than a couple of friends who actually would have noticed due to missing tagged pics or some posts rest all stayed oblivious to the fact that I was Poof from face book. Even my blog gets unnoticed with out FB. No FB means no readers , well almost no readers in my case. That is the only aspect of my social networking which I deeply miss but as I am blogging at a tortoise's speed, it doesn't matter much for now. But I must say, after I deactivated my FB , a good 40% of my brain got empty and I enjoyed the emptiness. It is up to me whether or not I use it to fill with knowledge, books, news, music, talks, or simply nothing.

The term "FOMO- Fear of Missing Out" exists from quite some time but these days it is mostly triggered by social N/W. I am not saying I have a chronic FOMO but my condition did get severe at some juncture. I forwarded the above message in a whats app group where I have a close knit group of 4-5 girls, and we joked around how we have FOMO syndrome when we compare each others' lives :) Every one who received that message gave a positive affirmation that they are suffering from it. It didn't make me feel better because "COBH - The comfort of being in the herd " is neither soothing nor can work as an antidote to FOMO. Before talking on how FOMO can actually impact and what we can do to subside it, I want to talk on the factors which may lead to FOMO!

FB can actually be considered as the 8th continent of the world. Seven is a magical number, but when something like facebook intervenes our lives with an intrinsic energy and power ,  and changes the math, it sure may lead to imbalance. It is an integral part of our lives. There are many things to do there, like Check ins, check outs, opinions, counter opinions, verbal fights , verbal abuses, pages and posts to like, and now posts get the privilege of getting subjected to other emotions like anger , happy , surprise , being thankful etc. We have walls to be climbed and browsed , walls to slide down in a sea of posts which are not appealing to you and walls to stalk, walls to block, walls to hide, walls to unhide, so on so forth. Facebook gives so many options to customise your features and increase or reduce the buzz around you. It is definitely nostalgic when old photographs, memories and age old opinions posted are reminded, which makes one feel how their opinions, thought process and appearance have evolved for  good or for bad! 
image source : here
Facebook gives a free peep in to every one's lives.  The peep is free and it always will be, the way they state it on the login page :) Every thing is glittery and you feel happy go lucky till you see something posted by someone which you might be wanting badly. You can do anything to get it. If you get the power of  navigating through the laptop / mobile screen and be in that place and enjoy exactly those events, you will do it without a second thought but alas, you don't have such power. All you can do is mindlessly check the updates and move on! When these updates exponentially increase with each day, that my friend may take you to the first stage of FOMO! The fear of missing out is the worst possible fear. Whether you really need the thing you are actually missing or not is an open question! You may be needing it but not so badly. The intense feeling you get about possessing it whenever you open facebook is sometimes irreparable. Yes I shamelessly admit that I am a victim of FOMO. I thought I never was and never will fall prey to such diseases but I realised for every human being a point comes in life when controlling all the senses seems too hectic. A juncture comes in life when life attacks you head-on with out giving you a chance to get stable!

I deactivated facebook for a month and I must say I felt calm. With less buzz around me I felt relaxed. I could read more, be creative, did my work-out more efficiently. A person should be strong enough to not get bogged down by the rest of the world and its happenings but it is OK to not be so strong at times. It is not always possible to carry yourself and feel alright every minute. Before the advent of twitter, FB and all kinds of social web pages we were less exposed to others' lives. It was easy to just live and let live as the updates were minimal and conversations were not perennial. But now FB is the only place where people want to discuss most of the happening moments, add life events , dump hatred or love, do any thing and everything. I am not saying social sites should be banned and I am not saying some one should take the ownership to streamline the process. I am just saying it is tough to not get effected. In my case, I am facing a difficulty in conceiving and I already have a hard time explaining to neighbors and people in office or any one who asks me whether or not I started planning in an exclamatory tone! I am at loss of words, when people ask questions so easily  but questions are guaranteed in life, answers are not. During such moments, when you see hordes of baby pictures on FB with various captions, discussions and mothers and fathers discussing their parenthood at length, you do feel slightly unhappy. It is not easy to dance in joy or party at every one's success. People who take the minimalistic approach are the best but there are many whose emotions and expressions never get stalled. You first congratulate, then you take part in one or two conversations and later you forget but when mountains of updates surround you, it gets tough to forget. It gets confusing as to how much is too much ? How much desperate you are for something gets directly proportional to how much others are achieving it :) It is like Murphy's law!

Recently I activated FB and below is my status update which got many responses from people who are sailing in the same boat. Some responses are shared here!
PS: Identities are purposely hidden

My FB Status: Top three questions posed in INDIA, affixed with the wonderment which generally is served as a combo along with the Question and this is not a scenario just on facebook. It happens inside and outside the virtual network!
1. Are you married ? If you have crossed a mere 21-22 this question is like a bulldozer which clears your patience in no time. If you reach a age of 25-26-27, Public expresses wonder as to why you are still not married ? What actually are your requirements ? If you have some issue? In the case of men a doubt on performance (You know where!) - Strangely women are exempted from this as if having sex and consummating the marriage is just the MAN's act .They will always put forward a helping hand to bring you out of the trauma which clearly is created by them.

2. Do you have kids? Immediately followed by Are you not planning for them? Do you have kids--- this question is like a tight noose around your neck. When you choke , catch a breath and try answering with a funny expression- "No. Not yet!" then the round of questions start, When were you married? When did you start planning? Why you should plan asap! With some ground work done on your DOB, your age and after thoroughly collecting all necessary statistics linked to your sex life, a careful analysis is done and rays of enlightenment are inserted in your head about pregnancy, motherhood, the beauty of it and so on! By the time a person crosses the age of 28-29, 30-31, 32-35 or 40 I think he/ she knows very well about child birth, causes, symptoms , analysis, pregnancies, and all the technicalities or complications of it and can decide when to have it or whether to have it or not. A 25 yr old and a 40 yr old are given tips with equal fervour and enthusiasm. Just because you are a mother or father to two toddlers or may be four, do not behave as if you have decoded all answers of universe! Universe is huge , leap out of that well you dwell in and get a brain enlargement. May be it will help before you get permanently stuck in the coils of the QUESTION MARK!

3. If you are divorced or have broke up with your partner, people around you are extremely curious, immensely sympathetic, behave as if they totally understand you , where as in reality they don't have a frigging idea how it actually feels. What all a person has to go through, the turmoil, the reluctance, the memories, the self-introspection, sleepless nights--- all these are absolutely known only to the person and his dear ones who are facing the brunt of it. If at all you have some dignity or have seen someone closer to you going through this, then you will also have the heart which makes your brain and mouth shut up. Trying hard to make a person open up is the worst decision during any break up! Added to that analysing the situation, pointing out the faults of the sufferer and suggesting rectifications when the wounds are fresh proves you can be nothing but a pain in ass. If he/ she wants to open up he/she will. It is totally up to the person as to what ,how , why and to whom he/ she wants to disclose. Do not cash on the vulnerabilities and do not behave like a prick!

There are many other questions which make rounds in my country or any other country where some of the fellow INDIANS reside! If you are in the vicinity of the questioner, equip your self to give the best possible answers because there is no escape and there never will be. People take offense very personally and strongly here if you are not married or want to stay single or get divorced or have no kids. Beware of the hoodwinked sympathy/ empathy. Save your ass from all the Crass. JAI HIND 

Some of the replies to the above status update were like below.
tongue emoticon
XXX  I face it on regular basis......i feel irritated all d time but can't help..we can't change people's perception in India

 XXX So true... 

XXX True. And if the answer for the second question No , they will suggest so many remedies , like go to this temple, go to this doctor , etc. I was also bugged off.

XXX Haha Indian mentality, can so relate to it,people leave no stone unturned to make you feel guilty for the life you are living and the supposedly wrong choices and decisions they think we make by delaying certain things !There is no escaping the questions and the scrutiny!

XXX I've faced the last two many many times..ughh

XXX Story of my life - the child part

XXX Some people shamelessly ask 'What's your salary' too! 🙈 Slighlty off topic but yeah this also falls under such questions one should never ask people...!

XXX Almost torture how they keep insisting on a 'good' answer!

XXX Well!! Been there! Still not married? No kids yet?? Are you planning your second child? The first one will learn how to share only if there is a second one and all that crap! However my point is this is not restricted just to India - when it comes to uncomfortable questions, it is universal! After living in USA for about 6 years now, I can say these questions have no regional bias!  and yea - to me the questions are not a bother! Who asks them is what matters! If the one asking is a concerned parent or a friend , I will be very glad to elaborate! If it is a nosy freak, I can give an equally apt reply! 

When I activated my facebook account , many said they were glad to see me back and that they were missing my updates . It did feel wonderful to hear that .I don't have any animosity on FB. It is a great medium for people like me who write. It gave me some wonderful friends whom I can never forget but but but ... the big problem which all FB users face is FOMO! It does attack you once in a while, when you are putting all your efforts for something and longing for the same and not getting it. A psychiatrist may articulate your thoughts but self help does work wonders. In my case deactivation helped a lot. I am back after a break but would deactivate again when I feel like! I realised that distance makes you miss or like or enjoy something. Same happened with me and facebook :) I do have FOMO now and then but I redirect to JOMO- Joy Of Missing Out like in the below oatmeal cartoon and make myself happy by reading a book, watching some thing I love, surprising the people I love, exercising or any thing and everything which erases FOMO! Have a good day!

source : here

source : here

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