The end of the year is upon us and with that comes the long awaited or long dreaded New Year’s Eve. For some, this is the time where parties are popping off left, right and center. Everyone has something to do and all of the options are amazingly exciting. But which do you choose? Do you attempt to go to all of them and risk not enjoying any? Or do you instead stick with one and leave yourself wondering what might have been?
For others, New Year’s Eve is a dreaded day of inactivity, with everyone else seeming super busy and yet you are left single and alone doing absolutely nothing. Whoever you, and wherever you are, there always seems to be a sense of FOMO when New Year’s Eve comes. But why is this? Here are 7 reasons why we have a fear of missing out at the end of every year.
What is FOMO?
FOMO is an abbreviated term for the fear of missing out. In the social world we live in, many people struggle with this concept. The idea of missing out on something that might later be a point of reference is devastating. “Do you remember Darren’s party last week, it was amazing!”. “It’s so sad you didn’t watch that Football game, it was literally the best ever!”. The truth is, FOMO has probably existed since civilisations began. Communal memories and stories are important for building relationships with people. We want to be part of these stories so we feel part of a social group and not isolated or alone. However, Forbes Magazine also points out that FOMO has gotten much worse since the birth of social media:
“The average person spends 147 minutes a day on social media. Because of this, we’re more aware than ever of how others are spending their time… FOMO, or fear of missing out… isn’t a diagnosable psychological condition—at least not yet—this phenomenon can directly impact both mental and physical health”
It might sound ridiculous to older generations, but missing an important social event can genuinely cause deep unhappiness for people. Unlike decades ago, we now are able to know exactly what everyone is doing all of the time. And people don’t usually post about the boring moments that dominate the majority of their lives, instead they post about the rare exciting times. Social media creates a cauldron of FOMO. So it is no surprise that New Year’s Eve, a time of such expectation, would bring about serious cases of it. But here are the 7 reasons for it.
1 – Social Pressure
New Year’s Eve is often seen as a time to be with friends and loved ones, and the fear of being alone or not having plans can be overwhelming. This isn’t your fault, this is the way that Hollywood and advertisement has made it look. Every new year’s film usually contains a big party with fireworks and a lovely kiss at the end of the countdown. But what do we do if we’re left without any of these? This social pressure can make us feel like we need to attend every party or event, even if we’re not really in the mood. You can end up at your mates’ mate Darren’s house, knowing no one, drinking a copious amount of alcohol to deal with the social anxiety, secretly wishing you’d just stayed at home and watched Harry Potter.
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2 – Essential Fun
New Year’s Eve has to be fun, right? Everyone has to be having such a good time, smiling loads, and laughing at every moment. Instagram is full of this during the last day of the year – everyone competes online to prove just how much bloody fun they are having. According to the Huffington Post, the most popular day for Instagram posting is the 1st January.
This means that in the early hours of the morning, whilst everyone is out having the best time of their lives, they are making sure to document it. We often see pictures and videos of people having a great time on New Year’s Eve, and we fear that we’ll miss out on the fun if we don’t join in. This can lead us to feeling FOMO about parties and events that probably aren’t actually that much fun, or are full of people who are just as anxious as you.
Imagine if you were having a terrible day, but for one minute you walked past a beautiful tree in the park, you decide to take a picture of that tree and post it online. Looking back at that day, you’re aware of how horrible it was. But for your Instagram followers, they think that you had spent a wholesome day amongst nature. It’s a facade.
3 – Comparison to Others
There’s also another side to this. Even if you do have an amazing New Year’s Eve, and you’re spending it with your nearest and dearest at a really fun event, there’s still a chance of feeling FOMO. Suddenly you hear about or see a picture of another event happening at the same time. In a matter of seconds, you’re left with a dreaded feeling that perhaps your celebrations are slightly inferior to someone else’s.
You went from enjoyment to dread in a matter of moments. Seeing other people’s seemingly perfect New Year’s Eve celebrations on social media can make us feel like we’re missing out on something special. We may compare our own plans to those of others and feel like our own celebration is lacking in comparison.
4 – The Future
Another reason for a fear of missing out is the future. New Year’s vEe is not only a time for parties, it’s also a time for resolutions – for preparing yourself for the year ahead and attempting to better yourself. Humans are strange, somehow in our complex minds we’ve also been able to figure out how to fear missing out on future events. New Year’s Eve is often seen as a time to set goals and make plans for the future. If we feel like we’re not making enough progress or that we’re falling behind, we may fear missing out on future opportunities and feel anxious about the year ahead. This is certainly not a good start to the year.
5 – Funny Stories
There are certain funny stories or significant events that are brought up more than others due to how wild or crazy they are. Friends can sit and reminisce for hours if they get the chance. However, if you’re the one person that wasn’t at that event, it can be very hard to have to sit and hear about it for hours. This might create a feeling of FOMO in us – simply the desire to go out in case of missing something crazy that might become a repeatedly told story for months to come.
6 – Past New Year’s Eves
Perhaps you’ve dealt with this before. Perhaps last new year’s, or maybe even a few before, you were unable to do anything due to whatever reason. This caused you a light case of FOMO at the time. But the horrific idea of missing out again is simply too much to take. You need to be involved this year or maybe you will implode with FOMO. It’s usual for the fear of missing out to increase if you’ve felt it before, and it can easily get worse if it keeps on happening. Although, it is also true that after enough time, it might subside. You may suddenly realize that everyone feels the same at New Year’s Eve and, actually, it’s just another day like any other.
7 – Change
A party or an event has the power to change people. When you hear about the 90s at the Hacienda in Manchester, or the 60s jazz music in Harlem, it’s hard not to wish you could have been there. One night out there and perhaps your whole life would’ve changed. But what about if all your friends went back in time to attend these events but you weren’t able to? This is how New Year’s Eve can feel. You worry that you’ll wake up on January 1st and somehow be different to the rest of your group. That they will know something or be part of something that you are not. What if they decide to all take a new recreational drug for the first time? Their outlooks might be changed by that substance, and you won’t understand. These are all perfectly common reasons for feeling FOMO.
Overall, FOMO on New Year’s Eve can be caused by a variety of factors but It’s important to remember that it’s okay to take a step back and do what feels right for you, rather than succumbing to the pressure to have a perfect celebration. The most important thing is to be with the people you care about and to not push yourself into a situation you won’t enjoy. New Year’s Eve is just another day. The sun will rise on January 1st and time goes on. Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more to come.
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