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


About twofelines

What to say? I love my family and friends. I also love kids, cats, and books. Oh, and potato chips and Cheez-its. I am a retired teacher who still loves to be in the classroom, so now I am a substitute teacher.
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3 Responses to FOMO

  1. Lauren says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this. The Times had a good piece this weekend on how constant internet/social use effects the ability to focus. Like your thoughts, I think it is all about balance. Discover that for yourself so you can maximize the good parts.

  2. Ann says:

    You really nailed it, Dorothy. When I see a three year old on a tablet, or a teen, who may spend up to 9 hours a day on a screen, I fear for their brain development, and their sense of self-worth. Keep ’em coming, kiddo!

  3. Betsy Roslund says:

    I agree with my Mom (Ann) and Lauren. When Lauren writes that internet/social sites use effects your ability to focus, that is right on. I’ve seen it with my students in the public school system who can not stop trying to use their phones in class despite anti-phone use policies and I see it with my own two, 21-year-old Amelia and 15-year-old Stefan. Kids are on the computers constantly and it does effect their concentration ability and probably other things as well. We can’t forget that we get tumor causing radiation from cell phones and even computers, too. But computers do teach students and young people — simply put, how to use them expertly will help them in future jobs. So they are preparing for the tech savvy future now. We can’t disregard that. Great blog, Dorothy!

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