We must be in acronym heaven, where every letter stands for something, and as old ones fade from memory, a new one is taking its place.

The concepts behind these acronyms have been around forever, but they trend differently with each generation. Dan Herman coined FOMO (The Fear of Missing out) in roughly 2004 to explain why consumers were increasingly switching brands.

The acronym took off about a decade later with the advent of social media. Social comparison amongst both adults and teens skyrocketed as post after picture-perfect post left viewers feeling like the "grass is always greener," thus increasing dissatisfaction with their own lives and experience.

Pre-COVID, FOMO (along with all the other?? MO's) was a commonly accepted term defined as "an underlying form of anxiety that we're missing out on something or that other people are having more fun than us (Rees, 2017, para. 3)."

Post-COVID, FOMO has the exact definition, but it lost its status in acronym ranking. People had adjusted and, in some cases, welcomed the fact that no one was doing anything out in the world that was more fun than what you were doing because no one was out in the world.

FOMO no longer seems as important as it once was.

Moving ever forward, as we adapt and adjust, new FO?? 's (fear of's) have surfaced, disrupting our sense of balance. FONO (Fear of Normal) and FOGO (Fear of Going Out) staked their ground and pitched their tent.

But buck up little camper; all is not lost. The "cure" for what ails you can be found within the concept of JOMO (Joy of Missing Out,) a perspective-based solution that gets easier every time you practice it.

From FOMO to FOGO – Everything is Upside Down

FOMO can attack anyone, anytime, anywhere. Studies estimate that almost 70% of adults suffer from FOMO. In the paper, FOMO, JOMO and COVID: How Missing Out and Enjoying Life Are Impacting How We Navigate a Pandemic, University student Stephanie Jacobsen cites research about why FOMO is a thing. Research indicates that FOMO stems from a need to belong and causes greater brain activity showing a neurologically based survival instinct. Primitive man needed to seek new food and water sources, or he could die. As a more evolved species today, FOMO produces feelings of anxiety stemming from the fear something exciting is happening somewhere without you.

Knowing that FOMO causes anxiety, and anxiety manifests in physical symptoms, it makes sense that FOMO can have serious physical and psychological implications, including:

• fatigue
• trouble sleeping
• being distracted
• depression
• higher alcohol consumption
• boredom
• loneliness

All of which contribute to a person's dissatisfaction with their lives and overall well-being.
Ironically, staying home and missing out on what's up in the world used to cause anxiety, but now people want to stay home because the fear of what's going on out in the world is overwhelming.

FOGO – The Fear of Going Out (because there's something scary out there) doesn’t mean you are agoraphobic. That would indicate clinical illness, whereas FOGO is decidedly less clinical and is an easily identifiable experience felt by so many people courtesy of COVID.

After living in such a heightened level of fear for so long, most of us can't just let go of social anxieties even if they have become out of proportion with the risks we face.

But that fear is normal because normal is not what it used to be. As we head into our third season of normal, not normal, new normal, it is no longer hypervigilant or phobic to fear for your life just by breathing in a room full of people.


Claim anxiety guide

A Brief Word about FONO

Finding information about the acronym FONO is like finding the right John Doe in a phone book (or on LinkedIn). There isn't much to be found about the catchy fear of the new normal acronym just yet.

However, after searching diligently, I discovered the FONO acronym in a blog from the Cambridge dictionary and on a website called MIC.

The Cambridge dictionary defines FONO as an abbreviation for Fear of Normal. It is an anxious feeling about going back to your normal life and activities after the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The website MIC discusses Fear of Normal as new normal, anxiety-producing fear. Some people are afraid of returning to the way things were pre COVID. They got used to doing their jobs in a less restrictive environment and enjoyed waking up when they felt like it.

Others learned to rearrange their priorities and spend more time with their family, or perhaps some had profound realizations or even changed career paths entirely.

This fear of returning to pre-COVID life is based on a feeling that you have come to an awakening of sorts and do not want to regress to something less.


"The presence of Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) eliminates the presence of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)"


Onward and Upward - Moving Through the Fear

Muster up your MOJO so you can embrace your JOMO. JOMO is your FOMO antidote. It means Joy of Missing Out, and it's all about being present and being content with where you are at this moment in your life. Rather than feeling fear that you are missing out on something big, you feel joy and happiness knowing that you are choosing to be doing exactly what you are doing.

To practice JOMO, you must choose to engage in specific behavior and realize the focus is not about missing out on fun things but rather on deciding to do whatever you find enjoyable.

If FONO or FOGO is more relatable, you can take steps to squash those fears as well by trying the following:

• Identify the fear
• Define what the fear means for you; as in how the fear affects you mentally, emotionally & physically
• Do what you need to do to be safe
• Take action
• Talk kindly about yourself to yourself

Talking through how you will handle a situation or event before attending it will help you identify what's most important. Those first few times you head out, you will notice every little thing which can be overwhelming.

If you start struggling with FOMO, check your perceptions. Are things really better over there on that other side?

And in all cases of these acronym fears, learn to let go (seriously, toss 'em out) of the little things and begin by acting in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Doing so will build your confidence and calm your anxiety.

Remember, FOMO, FONO, and FOGO involve a negative outlook that causes negative feelings, including fear, anxiety and regret.

JOMO is the opposite. It is about choosing to have your actions and thoughts focus more on engagement, fulfillment, reconnecting and disconnecting from the Jones’s.

 


 

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References

Aarti Gupta, P. (2016, March 03). Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. Retrieved from ADAA: https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/tips-get-over-your-fomo-or-fear-missing-out

Darcy. (2022). What do FOMO and FOGO mean? Retrieved from Battery Park City Therapy: https://batteryparkcitytherapy.com/blog/fomo-fogo-