The Dos & Don'ts Of Dealing With Online FOMO

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
It's a terrible feeling — you log onto Instagram, only to see a group of your friends smiling and laughing at a gathering you weren't invited to.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, and there's no denying that the internet hasn't exactly made things better in that area. Between Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, there's no shortage of outlets to make you feel like you're missing out on social events. Yes, social media is great — it's fun to share silly face swaps, or tag friends in funny memes. But the feeling of being left out is all too common online, as well.

Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to avoid FOMO, without having to give up social media entirely. We talked to Lizzie Post, spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute and co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, to find out how to handle these awkward situations, and maintain friendships.

Click through to hear our advice for dealing with FOMO — while still keeping an active online presence.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
If there's just one occasion where a friend's social media post shows your pals doing something without you, it might be best to let it go, Post advises. After all, you do plenty of stuff with other people, and you can't always invite every one of your friends.

"The trick is to not go down the rabbit hole of wondering, So why wasn't I invited?" Post says. "If it's just a one-off, no big deal! You know, next time, maybe you're one of the four people that gets invited, and someone else isn't on the list."

But if it's becoming a regular occurrence — and you're constantly seeing photos of your friends without you — it might be worth saying something. Keep in mind, though, that your friends' reaction might be defensive, rather than apologetic, Post notes.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
If you see a FOMO-inducing social media post, the last thing you should do is post a comment along the lines of "Why wasn't I invited?" It won't improve your relationship with your friend, and you'll probably look petty to your other friends, too.

"It is never a good idea to post grievances publicly," Post says. "That's really a conversation you should keep private." Plus, by having a conversation in person or on the phone, you can express tone in a way that can be hard to decipher in an online message.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
If you don't want to experience FOMO, you'll have to put in the legwork to strengthen your relationships, both online and offline.

That doesn't mean you can't use social media to maintain friendships, though — as long as you're in control of social media, and not the other way around. Some people have friendships that rely on things like tagging each other in memes, or texting GIFs throughout the day. And that's great! But if you're having FOMO from other people's photos, the easiest way to solve it is by making some plans of your own.

Likewise, if you're the person making plans for the group, take their interests into consideration. You might not all love karaoke, or action movies, or whatever else your friends like doing. But if you're trying to get a group of friends together more often, there's probably going to be some compromise involved.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
It's easy to fall into the trap of constant scrolling on Instagram and Facebook. And there's nothing wrong with checking your social apps on a daily basis. But it's also easy to, say, open Instagram on a weekend afternoon, and before you know it, several hours have gone by, and you're still glued to your phone.

Plus — remember when Post mentioned that you do things with your circle that you don't always invite everyone to? Instead of scrolling through FOMO-inducing photos when you hop into bed, why not remember some of those times (or text a friend)?
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
Post admits that there are some friendships that exist almost exclusively online. And it's great that tools like Facebook can connect us with people across the country and even across the globe. But if you haven't talked to someone lately, it can be nice to pick up the phone once in a while. (Often, it can feel like no time has passed in conversations with old friends, Post says.) And, as for the friends you do live near, a little face time, even just for coffee, will probably be more satisfying than tagging them in a post.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
Believe it or not, the purpose of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram isn't to make you feel bad about your own life (or to make other people jealous). Of course, it feels great when those Likes roll in. But if you reach a point where getting tons of Likes is more important than connecting with other people, it might be time to take a step back.
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