The fear of missing out

How attached are you to social media? If you have experienced the fear of missing out, perhaps it’s time to give your hashtags the big heave-ho. By Paula Hines

Do you take it or leave it? Or are you, like me, someone who could happily be on social media every day?

Social media can be lots of fun to participate in: a great way to connect with others, to stay in touch with family and your friendship circle both near and far… but it can become addictive. What does any of this have to do with yoga? It’s all about attachment.

Aparigraha – non-grasping or non-attachment – is the fifth of the five yamas (self-restraints), the moral disciplines described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Last summer I realised I’d become very attached to social media. I was losing too much of my time to it. I felt an obligation to post new ‘content’ every day (a lie I had told myself) and what had once been enjoyable became a chore at best and stressful at worst. I also observed that I had been doing a lot of mindless scrolling and coming away feeling miserable afterwards (studies have shown social media use can have a detrimental effect on mental health). I
decided to take a week-long social media holiday. I did not know at the time how profound my social media break would be.

Nothing bad will happen if you don’t post on social media today. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – is an illusion.

One year on, my social media use is still much reduced. I closed one account down and deleted another app from my phone. I’ve written letters to far away friends instead of long emails or texts. Straight after my social media holiday, I instigated Switch Off Sundays – one day a week off all social media, as well as taking two more week-long social holidays.

Nothing bad will happen if you don’t post on social media today. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – is an illusion. And if you’re using social media for your business, guess what? Your business will not collapse if you go one day without posting. There are people doing good work and thriving without a strong social media presence.

So, I ask again, how attached are you to social media? Or to frame it a different way, what feelings arise at the thought of not being able to use social media for a day? How would it feel if you left your phone at home, or the internet was out of your grasp? Without any judgement, simply observe what comes up for you. What does this teach you about yourself? Are you more attached than you thought?

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (

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