As a reminder, the fear of missing out is the psychological phenomenon where a person has extreme anxiety whenever they’re doing something — watching TV or a movie, eating dinner out, hanging out with friends — that there may be something better they’re not doing. It was brought on by the always-on access to social networks like Facebook, where a person is encouraged to constantly update their status.
And update we do! Our “news feeds” on Facebook and other social networks are full of what others in our life are doing. So is it any surprise that all of that apparent activity is causing some of us to be stressed out and anxious?
The Fear of Missing Out Revisited
We first talked about the fear of missing out, or FOMO addiction four years ago, way back in 2011:
Teens and adults text while driving, because the possibility of a social connection is more important than their own lives (and the lives of others). […] They check their Twitter stream while on a date, because something more interesting or entertaining just might be happening.
It’s not “interruption,” it’s connection. But wait a minute… it’s not really “connection” either. It’s the potential for simply a different connection. It may be better, it may be worse — we just don’t know until we check.
We are so connected with one another through our Twitter streams and check-ins, through our Facebook and LinkedIn updates, that we can’t just be alone anymore. The fear of missing out (FOMO) — on something more fun, on a social date that might just happen on the spur of the moment — is so intense, even when we’ve decided to disconnect, we still connect just once more, just to make sure.
But as research has shown, a person’s Facebook profile and status updates provide a one-sided view of a person’s life — the very best of it. So yeah, chances are, your life may not always measure up to other people’s idealized, perfect lives that they curate and seamlessly present to the world. Because none of it is real.1
There’s an App for That
Well in this case, there’s not an app for that (or who knows, there may be!), but there is a quiz for it.
Because we know FOMO is a real concern among some of our readers, we’ve developed a FOMO quiz:
It’s based upon a single research study, so please take its results with a grain of salt. But it may help you understand whether FOMO is a significant thing in your life — and whether your fear of missing out may be negatively affecting the rest of your life.
And if you find the quiz helpful, please share it with your friends on Facebook and elsewhere. Thanks!
- It’s not real in the sense that if you’re only given one side of the story, you have an incomplete and inaccurate picture — one that is disconnected from reality. And is therefore not real. [↩]