Dec. 11, 2019

Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me? Motherhood and FOMO

FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” is that feeling you get when you see friends on social media posting about lives more exciting than your own. But FOMO happens in real life too- and the FOMO we feel on our kids’ behalf? Ouch. Here’s how to deal.


FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” was a term coined around 2011 to describe the feeling you get when you see friends on social media posting about lives just a little more exciting than your own. Behavioral researcher Dan Ariely calls it "the worry that tugs at the corners of our minds, set off by the fear of regret."

It's a feeling definitely made worse by the constant ability we all have to check in on what other people are doing. According to a 2016 survey, three-quarters of parents use Facebook; 61% of those parents check it several times a day. "We get online to check on what everyone else is doing on a wonderful summer afternoon," writer Susan Narjala explains, "and it takes about ten seconds to feel worse about ourselves and our lives."

But even when we succeed in unplugging, FOMO can rear its head in real life. And once we become parents, the FOMO we feel on our kids' behalf-- the party invites that don't come, the Disney World vacations we can't afford right now-- can seriously interfere with our happiness.

In this episode, we discuss when we've felt FOMO in our own lives, why we tend to feel more envious of our neighbor's house than, say, Beyoncé's, and how to stop the compare-and-despair when it all gets to be a little too much.

Here are links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode:

Jason Goldman for Scientific American: Why Bronze Medalists Are Happier Than Silver Winners

Susan Narjala for Motherly: Five Ways To FOMO-Proof Your Parenting

Jenny Evans for Scary Mommy: We Have FOMO For Our Children, And We Need To Get Over It ASAP

Jenna Wortham for The New York Times: Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It's Your Facebook Wall.

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