Ever hear of it? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This phenomenon is directly related to FaceBook and Smart Phones, Instagram and Tweets and can infect anyone, though youth seem more susceptible. Although at its most basic, it is a fear of not being included, say in a local party or happening, in a more general sense, viewer sees pictures and news of wonderful vacations, weddings, other social events, promotions, honors, babies, new houses and cars and thinks, “Why them and not me?” At its most basic, one would call this envy, envy in reaction to what I have termed “Show and Tell on crack!” You recall Show and Tell from school days, don’t you? Only now the stakes are higher and the showing and telling more widespread.
Believe it or not, FOMO can be a major cause of depression. A famous model made news by declaring that she was taking a holiday from social media because of the pressure she felt. Reportedly, taking that break is not that easy. An article in the Washington Post (by Elaine Izadi) quotes psychologist Sherry Turkle as saying, “We live in a culture where ‘I share therefore I am.’”
It has often been pointed out that comparison causes unhappiness. Interestingly enough, in a study of Olympic medal winners it was found that bronze medal winners experienced the most joy because silver medal winners kept thinking, “I could have won gold!” In the case of FOMO, it’s a case of social comparison, so here’s the suggested cure: instead of focusing on others and their air-brushed lives, concentrate on your own life and create a list of appreciation or gratitude. (Sound familiar?)
I grew up listening to “The Small Fry Club” on Boston Radio. The host, Bob Emery, would begin each show with the song, “The Grass is Always Greener in the Other Fellow’s yard.” (Composers Whiting and Egan) “If we all put on green glasses, it wouldn’t be so hard, to see how green the grass is in our own backyards.”
So put on those green glasses and celebrate what is positive in your own life, even if it is just that first cup of coffee, sipped at home, not in some exotic location!
Dorothy C. Judd © 2015
Next post: Monday, December 7th