Fear of Missing Out Exacerbated by Social Networking

By Michelle Amodio April 13, 2011

In this age of the Urban Dictionary, we have been introduced to a not-so-new concept, but newly coined term known as FOMO, or, fear of missing out. In common parlance, the term is used as a noun, and as an example, one might say: "I am having major FOMO because I’ll be away this weekend.”

It sort of sounds like a disease, and the New York Times recently reported it is certainly linked to a sort of existential depression, particularly when it comes to social networking.

FOMO blends the feeling of inadequacy with anxiety and irritation, leading social users who witness their friends checking in on FourSquare or by other means to feel left out. While the connected aspect of social networking brings us all closer together, particularly when it comes to formerly detached friends and family, the darkside has cooked up classic cases of FOMO for many.

Perhaps a successful business person who spends his or her time pounding away at corporate projects will see friends posting pictures from their smartphones of their current goings on and feel envious of the fun they’re missing out on. Conversely, a free-spirited bar tender might see pictures or updates of their more corporate-employed friends and feel envious of their financial success. Whatever way you cut it, this feeling of FOMO is basically similar to wanting what we don’t have, or, the grass is always greener syndrome.

Jenna Wortham of the NYT looks at FOMO as hardly a new trend. She mentions an anonymous friend who logs onto Facebook and "I'm thinking, ‘I am 28, with three roommates, and oh, it looks like you have a precious baby and a mortgage,' " she said."And then I wanna die."

To assuage her feeling of inadequacy, this friend will post something positive or fun that she herself has done, but the feeling of FOMO could just as easily spread to another person because of said posting. It’s a rather vicious cycle, so it seems.

This “always on” connection to the world is no doubt a factor in how we live out our lives. While great and wonderful, sometimes always being in the know could prevent us from seeking out self-fulfilling happiness. This FOMO phenomenon certainly lends itself to an interesting conversation in existentialism, but as far as the Internet is concerned, there is a pretty easy cure.

When Wortham asked Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle how we can deal with FOMO as a society, the answer was pretty simple. She said she would tell herself to “get a grip and separate myself from my iPhone.”  

Inventor Dean Kamen nailed it when he said that everyone is missing out on something. But Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said it best when he said “be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”


Michelle Amodio is a TechZone360 contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Bloomberg BETA: Models Are Key to Machine Intelligence

By: Paula Bernier    4/19/2018

James Cham, partner at seed fund Bloomberg BETA, was at Cisco Collaboration Summit today talking about the importance of models to the future of machi…

Read More

Get Smart About Influencer Attribution in a Blockchain World

By: Maurice Nagle    4/16/2018

The retail value chain is in for a blockchain-enabled overhaul, with smarter relationships, delivering enhanced transparency across an environment of …

Read More

Facebook Flip-Flopping on GDPR

By: Maurice Nagle    4/12/2018

With GDPR on the horizon, Zuckerberg in Congress testifying and Facebook users questioning loyalty, change is coming. What that change will look like,…

Read More

The Next Phase of Flash Storage and the Mid-Sized Business

By: Joanna Fanuko    4/11/2018

Organizations amass profuse amounts of data these days, ranging from website traffic metrics to online customer surveys. Collectively, AI, IoT and eve…

Read More

Satellite Imaging - Petabytes of Developer, Business Opportunities

By: Doug Mohney    4/11/2018

Hollywood has programmed society into believing satellite imaging as a magic, all-seeing tool, but the real trick is in analysis. Numerous firms are f…

Read More