Are you FOMOphobic?

fomoAre you thinking about what you might be missing out on while you’re reading this post?  If so, you may be suffering from the psychological affliction called FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out.

Social media, which has enabled us to know things that we have no need or real desire to know … about every member of our entire social media network… at the exact minute it happens, 24/7  … is fueling this phenomenon at a frenetic pace.

A New York Times article found that we are virtually enabling this to happen by creating a ‘collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something you are doing or experiencing get near-immediate approval from your online peers.”

One recent study revealed that 56% of adult social media users suffer from FOMO.  Another revealed that many social media users would rather have a root canal, spend a night in jail, or sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music than to give up their social media profile.

What’s more, a study conducted by British psychologist Andrew Przbylski looked at the connections between FOMO and social media and found that people who felt lower levels of autonomy, competence, and connectedness had more severe FOMO and used social media more.

Many believe this is hindering our ability to stay in the present and live fully in the now.  And it’s just getting started.

Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous positives of social media.  I myself like to know what’s going on in pop culture and social media is great for that.  I also like to share sayings and quotes and share an occasional photo. I also truly appreciate social media for helping me stay in touch with those I might not otherwise be able to stay in touch with.  And it’s good for business and for writers.  I get all that.

Yet each time I open Facebook, I have to weigh the odds of reading a post that makes me uneasy at the potential FOMOphobia it may be fueling against the odds of reading a  funny or thought-provoking quote or article posted by a friend.  Or of seeing a sweet post of a moment from a friend’s life.  Or of connecting with a family member. These are the aspects of social media that I love.

Often at social events I’m fascinated by the fact that when someone’s smartphone camera comes out and the word Facebook is mentioned, it’s like a drop of blood has hit the water and suddenly everyone around me has their smart phone out in a frenzy to capture a photo to post on social media to document their attendance.  At what point are we so worried about posting about all the great things that are happening to us that we actually are starting to become absent from our present lives?

Fortunately most of the time, the funny and  semi-personal connecting moments through social media outweigh the occasional quasi-narcissistic outbursts that I can only assume fuel the FOMOphobia epidemic.  Some days it’s a toss up.

But don’t you just have to wonder what will happen if the pace of  technology which is bringing us closer and closer to knowing way too much about each other’s activities at all times one day matches the pace of the rapidly spreading FOMOphobia epidemic?  Will the intersection of these trajectories cause us to combust?  Or to just reboot with the concept of living in the moment a thing of the past?

‘Ignorance is bliss’ never made more sense.

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17 thoughts on “Are you FOMOphobic?

  1. I wish I could drop FB, but if not for FB, I would have almost no social interaction on a regular basis, aside from WP. My preference is always phone talking, but my phone never rings. 😦 I think it’s ridiculous what some people post on FB though!!

  2. Good post, Wry. I miss the olden days when the chroniclers among us relied upon annual Christmas letter recaps. Now those prolix epistles seems like models of self-restraint.

    • One of the articles I read when researching actually compared the craze to the old Christmas letters and mentioned how we had no idea what was to come when we thought those were over the top back in the day! Now it’s like a 24/7 overthetop Christmas letters 24/7!

      • It is, only it took those letter-writers a modicum of restraint to contain an entire year on one 8×10-inch piece of paper…

  3. Great post, Wry. Unfortunately, I see this trend growing and it makes me wonder when, or if, we will ever hit the saturation point. But let’s face it, there is a certain percent of the population who never do anything REAL. Their cyber life IS their life.

  4. I ditched twitter. I have a Facebook page to get the latest photos of my grandchildren, but that’s about it. WordPress is probably the nearest thing to social media for me. I couldn’t care less (absolutely no offence intended) what anyone ate for lunch, or how many times they went to the WC. We have a politician – our Prime Minister no less – who is addicted to “selfies” and even posted a picture of himself on twitter with a lump of toilet paper stuck to his face after he cut himself shaving (google Kevin Rudd selfie). I mean puleeeeze, who the heck cares.

  5. Very interesting! I used to be a major FONOphobe, but it has decreased with age despite social media. I heard it stated somewhere recently that, with social media, we are comparing our behind-the-scenes with other peoples’ “highlight reel.” Its good to remind ourselves of that sometimes.

  6. I pulled the plug on Twitter, Facebook almost 2 years ago but I do like my newsy things (huffington post and Flavorwire, oh and Telegraph.UK.. oh and New York Times daily news,, and a host of photography sites.. *sigh* I too am addicted to internet..

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