The Urban Dictionary defines the new term FOMO (noun) as: "a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out." Ten years ago, if someone said FOMO everyone would look at that person like they had ten heads. Now, it has gotten to the point where parents, teachers, and your peers understand what FOMO means. I’ve found myself using this jargon in my everyday speech and sometimes it just seems so perfect to say at the time. I can’t help but think, has FOMO consumed my life? Why is FOMO a thing? Is there really a slang term for this state of mind? FOMO is a complex noun that just might be destroying our generation.
I’ve been in a room with several of my friends and although other PEOPLE surround us, we are still scrolling through our phones, watching Snapchat stories, and looking through Instagram. Between the scrolling, we have held lengthy conversations about other people’s Snapchat stories. Saying stuff like, “I can’t believe they’re all together” or “what? They went in the city today? For what?” Instead of saying things like, “wow that’s really cool,” everyone has become obsessed with events that other people are partaking in while they are not there. Whether we like it or not, our generation has become a victim of FOMO.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: they’re all reminders of parties we weren’t invited to, lunches we weren’t included in, and selfies that we couldn’t fit into. In my opinion, FOMO is the main thing that keeps social media apps alive. Posting a picture of you and all of your friends on Instagram can show how much fun you are having, but it also shows all of your followers how much you're having without them. People are constantly saying how our generation is addicted to social media, which includes posting, liking and friending/following. But, in reality, we aren’t addicted to social media. We are consumed with the ideas that someone else is doing something that we are not included in. FOMO has become like a drug that we can’t help but become consumed by.
One of my friends gave me some wise advice before my freshman year of college, “If you don’t have FOMO, you’ll make and keep friends for much longer.” At first, I just took it as a small piece of advice. After thinking about it, it’s really true. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve checked Snapchat and seen people storying each other and have felt left out. Some people might say that it’s pathetic that I feel like that over a lousy Snapchat, but I can bet that there are plenty of people looking at their screens and nodding their heads with me. FOMO won’t consume you if you don’t care about one of the most important human concerns: inclusion.
Humans naturally want to feel included, loved, and welcomed into a group. Whether that is a sports team, a club, a fraternity, or a sorority, we are constantly looking for inclusion so that we, as humans, can be a part of something greater than ourselves. Not having FOMO is easier said than done because social media is constantly giving us reminders that we are not a part of something. Every second we check our Instagram feed it is another reminder of something that we were not welcomed at. Life might be better without FOMO, but because of the technologically booming society we live in, FOMO will consume us, as individuals, for life.