F.O.M.O. Fear of Missing Out.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, F.O.M.O. is the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
It is a national epidemic slowly taking over the globe, and you are in its direct path of destruction. If you have not already succumbed to the illness, I assure you, your time will come.
I have in fact been personally victimized by F.O.M.O. At first, I thought that this constant anxiousness and worry of being forgotten about was due to another struggle: only-child syndrome. (Although not included in the Oxford Dictionary, this disorder is hitting hard against only children everywhere, who feel they may be missing out due to a lack of sibling entertainment).
However, after some thorough research into the issue, I found the real culprit of my feelings - and it’s right on the surface.
Literally, a surface of technology that has taken over our lives. The screen of your mobile device is something that the average person in today’s society looks at 2,617 times a day, according to a study done by DSCOUT . That is a lot of exposure time.
With the astronomical spikes in social media use over the past few years, the stats show that this is where people get most of their screen exposure from. The average human spends one hour and 56 minutes, 8% of their day, on the top 5 social media platforms (Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube). Now in the grand scheme of things, that brings the exposure of technology, and the exposure of other people's personal lives, to an all time high. Never at any point in history have people's daily lives been easier to follow than in 2017. This is exactly our problem.
When we spend downwards of 171 minutes, 12% of our day as tested by ComScore Mobile Metrix , on our phones absorbing ourselves in other people's lives, we end up taking away from our own lives. Of course, we feel like we’re missing out because we literally are!
Between Instagram live videos and Snap Stories, I am fully aware of everything my friends (and also some random half-acquaintances) are up to at any given moment. With Snapchat I can literally track people’s exact location and see who else is with them. The easiest way to find my friends on campus is simply to open my snap maps rather than text a group chat - it’s faster than waiting for them to text back.
Every time I see a photo or video of people together without me, I get this panicked feeling like I have been forgotten about. What's the most ironic part of this though? The majority of the time this happens, I was invited along with everyone else! I made the choice not to go.
Yet once it's posted, all I can think about is all of the laughs I missed out on, and the inside jokes they will surely have next time I see them. The reality of it is that these photos/videos were probably taken within a 5 minute time period, and the most I missed out on was a quick laugh that no one will even remember tomorrow. But once the Snap Story is posted, it’s too late.
My brain is repeatedly beating myself up for the next 24 hours, full of regret and anxiety, and a promise to never ever ever under any circumstances miss out on anything ever again.
But there's an easier solution here! It is a cure I have found that may seem much more painful than other treatments, but the results are immediate. Turn off your phone. In less serious cases of the disorder, even just refraining from checking social media will do the trick! It all comes back to the same thing, exposure. If you aren't exposed to all the Snap Stories and Facebook posts, you won't catch the feels. You will be free from the emotional distress and mental side effects of missing out, and you will live a F.O.M.O. free life!