By Men's Health Clinic
Have you ever felt the dreaded “fear of missing out?” You probably have. Fear of missing out, a.k.a. FOMO, is all too familiar in the modern age. Marketers love throwing the term around to make consumers think that they may miss out on something mind-blowing if they “hibernate.”
FOMO has negative effects on your overall mood and satisfaction because it makes you feel “out of the picture.” And here’s an interesting fact: studies have pointed out that men are more likely to turn to social media when reporting their negative experiences with FOMO than women.
This is why we’d like to introduce the marvellous concept of the “joy of missing out” (otherwise known as JOMO), as a potential healthy alternative. JOMO springs from those same concerns about missed opportunities, but with a twist. Rather than focusing on the negativity of missing out on those opportunities, it sees the joy in missing such opportunities.
In this feature, we'll explore the ramifications of FOMO and JOMO. We’ll tackle why JOMO is a healthier mindset to adopt for men so they can be healthy physically, mentally, and sexually!
British psychologists defined FOMO as the “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.” The phenomenon is often described as a problematic attachment to social events and is associated with negative effects like emotional tension and lack of sleep.
One theory posited the idea that FOMO is actually a negative emotional state that comes from an individual having unmet social needs. Based on our research, FOMO can affect men’s mental health in a variety of ways.
In terms of social media, FOMO encourages a consistent need for personal validation and pushes the fear of social exclusion further. It fosters feelings of inadequacy due to its edited representations of the “cool lives” that other people are having in that social media space. It's not difficult to see how this can lead to stress and anxiety about one's own appearance.
It gets even worse when FOMO’s negative effects start to affect men’s physical aspects—even their sexual health.
Stress, a common consequence of FOMO, has been associated with sexual problems like premature ejaculation. Furthermore, certain medications used to manage stress can exacerbate sexual difficulties.
The constant comparison to idealised portrayals of sexual experiences on social media can create unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy, negatively affecting sexual confidence and satisfaction.
Men may feel pressured to engage in risky sexual behaviours or seek validation through sexual encounters to keep up with perceived social norms, further exacerbating the negative impact on sexual health.
FOMO can also disrupt the intimacy and connection within romantic relationships by diverting attention and energy towards external events or experiences. The constant need to stay connected and updated on social media may lead to decreased quality time spent with partners—resulting in emotional disconnection and decreased sexual desire.
JOMO is an incidental reaction to getting independence, solitude, and disconnection from others. One study points to an event in 2021, where many social media platforms experienced a blackout. Throughout the unexpected interruption, various respondents were seemingly recorded as showing symptoms of JOMO—finding joy in the unexpected break.
But to say that JOMO is merely a passive reaction to unexpected events would be plain wrong. The same study in fact highlights how a good number of individuals openly choose JOMO, thereby experiencing positive emotions from their active choice not to interact with such social events.
There are even studies that link JOMO to those who experienced joy when the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily cut off face-to-face contact for many professions. According to one theory, introverts would naturally feel such relief. However, the theory also points out that even highly extroverted individuals found mental relief because some may still have a preference for “periods of solitude.”
While for some, JOMO is an active choice, it can also work as an intervention to promote mental well-being and stress reduction by positively interrupting the routine of certain individuals.
JOMO provides a much-needed break from the constant pressure of social comparison and the fear of missing out, allowing individuals to focus on their own well-being and personal interests.
By intentionally embracing solitude, men can experience reduced stress levels, improved mental clarity, and enhanced overall emotional well-being. JOMO promotes mindfulness and being present in the moment—fostering a sense of gratitude and contentment.
By prioritizing JOMO, individuals can cultivate a healthier relationship with social media and external distractions, leading to greater focus and presence during intimate moments with their partners. JOMO also encourages individuals to appreciate the quality of their connections rather than constantly seeking external validation or comparing their experiences to others. Taking time for oneself and embracing JOMO can improve self-esteem, body image, and sexual confidence—enhancing sexual satisfaction and intimacy within relationships.
It is important that you build your boundaries around prioritising self-care. While there’s always a certain flexibility to your routine, there should be certain must-haves to always keep in mind. This includes not just annual medical check-ups (which you should be doing) but “relaxing” time for yourself. If you’re an employee, for example, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking your vacation leave. There’s a reason it’s mandated by law, after all.
We’ve previously highlighted how studies show that JOMO seems to be more about embracing disconnection and isolation. But that was primarily about its relation to social media. As pointed out, this “disconnection” could also be seen as a way of “fulfilling intrapersonal relationships” that no longer need such social media platforms.
There is a real opportunity to foster meaningful connections that aren’t too reliant on these tech mediums. By prioritizing quality time with loved ones and engaging in deep conversations, we can nourish these relationships and create lasting bonds that are not solely dependent on virtual connections.
JOMO, in essence, is about the power of decision-making. You decide how your day is going to look like, without letting others’ tactics influence your decisions. Why not add a little excitement to your life by combining the power of decision-making and unexpected events? Imagine adding a bit of spontaneity for the week or the month, but only deciding on a random day what that spontaneity will look like. This could be a great way of exploring JOMO for yourself.
No, we’re not suggesting you sell your house or move abroad on a whim (unless that’s your thing). Think of smaller stuff like taking a few days off to catch up with friends, or even vacationing somewhere you never planned on going to. Even better when it’s timed to avoid other big events at your workplace or home that you’re more than happy to skip. By embracing these moments of spontaneity, you break free from the monotony of routine and create memorable experiences.
FOMO can originate from how you process information about certain opportunities. For example, a chatty friend or social media feed may bombard you with some of the latest exciting events.
Dealing with that isn’t about never opening your social media feed or avoiding that chatty friend, especially since that can lead to its own FOMO anxiety. What we actually suggest is to plan ahead with your own “Yes” or “No” system.
For example, what if it’s a semi-exciting hobby event, but you only learned about it the day before it happens? You might want to decide to give it a miss. Doing this will be disconcerting at first, but in the long run, it can help provide a lot of JOMO moments for unimportant events.
Not everyone can afford to get rid of their social media, especially since it’s often connected to work or other essential parts of our routine. What we suggest instead is that you try to allot a certain amount of time for daily social media use and try not to go beyond it. Additionally, we suggest never using more than two social media platforms at any time.
The saying goes that “What you don’t know, you won’t miss” and while that’s not always the case, you definitely do not need to see every post your friends make.
The fear of missing out is an undeniable presence in our lives, especially in the age of Instagram, X, Facebook, and TikTok. Truth is, it’s inevitable to feel, and sometimes, we will find ourselves in situations that make us feel stressed, anxious, or not enough.
But there’s power in missing out. JOMO means taking back control of our emotional well-being—especially with how we react to situations. By leaning primarily on the conscious choice to miss out, we can feel reassured instead of anxious about our powerlessness in the face of different circumstances. When we embrace JOMO, we take charge of our mental and sexual health. We no longer let our fears dictate our decisions or impact our well-being. Instead, we become the masters of our own happiness and fulfilment.
If you're experiencing any concerns or challenges related to mental health, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Consulting with a healthcare provider can provide valuable insights and guidance to address these issues and enhance your overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our mental and sexual experts to cultivate a healthier mindset and a more satisfying sexual life!
With one of our Senior Patient Coordinators who can provide you with more information regarding bespoke treatment options.