In 2013, the word “FOMO” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The “fear of missing out” refers to the feeling of “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.”
(I’m often surprised at the new acronyms I’m learning.)
Even though the terminology has only recently been added to our dictionary, experiencing FOMO is nothing new.
If you’re like most people,at some point in time we have been preoccupied by the idea that someone, somewhere, is having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life than we are.
Have you ever felt that way?
Social media and smart phones have made it easier than ever to track what others are doing.
Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to keep tabs on people we care about. An important part of what makes us human is our need to be social.
However, many companies have found ways to tap into this impulse to keep us coming back to their apps and websites regularly.
Studies have shown that FOMO is often linked to feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction, and that social media fuels it.
Think how many people constantly scan email or Facebook to keep up with friends’ updates. Some people don’t just want to keep up – they start to compare their lives based on how they see others portraying their own.
I fully realize that using smartphones and social media is a necessity in business, but how many hours are you spending on social media (especially Facebook) that is NOT business related?
An article from Psychologies Magazine points out, FOMO is sort of like “modern take on the grass being greener on the other side.”
I’m not referring to logging in to Facebook several times a day. It’s the “antsy” feeling that we have to stay constantly connected. Almost to the point of having withdrawals.
I read a few articles that suggested that FOMO is a trait you are born with. I’m not sure I agree with that but I do know that since social media became a part of our lives , it makes that type of fear surface.
Let me give you a couple of illustrations to think about.
Have you seen a photo come through your newsfeed of a bunch of friends out on the lake, shopping, or eating out at a cool restaurant and a thought of “I wish I were doing that”? No big deal, right?
But then, you see a photo album from a friend’s vacation or mission trip and you’re convinced that you need to do that (whatever “that” is). Soon, it turns into thoughts of places to move, jobs to snag or other life-related milestones.
It’s almost to the point of envious. I know all of us experience this but where the FOMO comes in is when you are consumed with these feelings.
Here’s another one to think about. How many times are you on Facebook each day? Maybe I shouldn’t ask how many timesbut rather how long do you spendon Facebook each day? Again, I not referring to connecting with potential customers or anything that is business related…I’m talking about looking at your newsfeed….because you have FOMO.
How could you spend this time more wisely? The problem is that you’re actually everywhere and nowhere at the same time. You’re spending to much valuable time wishing you were someplace else to really enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing at the moment.
I have been discussing FOMO as it relates to the time we spend on social media or even checking out email.
However, FOMO effects our working lives, too. Have you ever been on Facebook at work and your boss walks by and you have to hurry to clear or switch screens? Think about it.
FOMO is the fear that everyone else is having more fun, more excitement and more rewarding experiences than you. Whether on the school bus or at the far end of the dining table, it’s something we’ve all experienced.
Leave a comment below and let me know to what degree you have FOMO. (I’m assuming we all have a little).