Fear of missing out, also known as FOMO. A popular abbreviation manifested from the ongoing progress of our newest form of communication: social media.

You’re casually rolling around in your bed on a Sunday morning and you reach for your cellphone to check your Instagram feed. Scrolling past the celebrity photos, past the appetizing food photos from your relatives, past the random pet photos, your thumb suddenly halts at a group picture.

You take a good hard look at the picture. It’s a picture of your friends, presumably from last night according to the time stamp. You purse your lips because you missed out on yet another group outing which obviously turned out to be very exciting.

And you weren’t there. The thought dawns upon you as you think about the future outings that you will attend in the future. You know you’ll hear inside jokes that were made from that night you missed. Then your friends would have to explain to you why such and such became a joke.

Yet, you know deep inside that you will never get it and that the only way you will be able to understand that inside joke is the fact that you should have attended the social gathering in the first place!

So seeing people that you know personally being happy will only fuel a mindset that you’re ‘missing out’.

Part of the reason for the feeling of FOMO is that you don’t want to be left out at all. Ever. With people on their phones almost constantly, it isn’t surprising that millennials have this constant fear to always be in the in crowd, doing the in thing.

It’s easy to validate our lives based on the people we watch on virtual platforms. Conforming to the crowd’s mold, we are regularly comparing our lives against a friend’s lifestyles and milestones, or against a celebrity’s Instagram.

In extreme cases, FOMO isn’t a laughing matter.

As we compare ourselves with other people’s happy, successful lives, it can have an adverse effect on us, both physically and mentally. Sometimes we would feel an immense sense of dissatisfaction with our own lives because of this. This may even lead to anxiety and depression.

To escape from this grim mindset, one should consider the fact that what people post on social media don’t tell the whole truth about their lives. Most are carefully hand-picked and this is already a tell that they’re picking out the ‘best’ and ‘perfect’ version of their lives. Obviously, they are sweeping whatever imperfections and flaws they have under their virtual carpet.

Regardless, if you’re feeling a little left out sometimes, it’s alright to break away from the source that’s making you feel this way. It’s alright to take a break from social media and focus on the things that actually matters to you. Spend some time investing in your hobby, go outside and take a breath of fresh air, take some pictures of whatever catches your interest. Forget about those pictures that were haunting your Sunday morning. It’s not worth comparing your life with somebody else’s. Nobody’s life is ever perfect.