The FOMO Syndrome: Fear of Missing Out

December 5, 2018

Nowadays, we like to interact with others both online and offline. With new information, technologies, and social networks, the digital medium has been established as a new space for interaction. In this new digital world, the FOMO syndrome or “Fear of missing out” emerged.

The main thing that characterizes FOMO is a social fear that, to be honest, has always existed: being excluded. It’s that bitter feeling that we’re missing out on something that others are enjoying. This feeling begins as a simple perception that grows and mortifies us to the point where we feel the need to stay connected on our social media platforms at all times just so that we don’t miss out on anything.

“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”

-Jay Baer-

Knowing that our friends are going to do something better than what we have already planned makes us feel like we’re the ones who are losing. This makes us feel like their lives are more interesting than ours. Thanks to smartphones and the instantaneity of social networks, these feelings of alertness and fear have become a regular companion in the lives of many people.

Girl with FOMO syndrome staring at her smartphone.

The cause of this phenomenon is being continuously connected to social media networks. Due to new technologies, this social anxiety took on new dimensions that require the analysis of sociologists, psychologists, and even doctors. Let’s delve a little deeper into this subject.

So you can’t enjoy yourself because others are doing so as well?

Imagine the following scenario. You decide to stay home on a Saturday night. You’re enjoying a good movie, a good book, or a good conversation. Then, you go on Facebook and you notice that many of your friends are doing fun things like traveling or having dinner in exclusive restaurants. If it makes you feel distressed, you’re falling into FOMO’s trap.

“It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.”

-Alexis Ohanian-

We’ve all felt anxious before because we felt like we were missing out on something important. That’s completely normal. The problem arises when we feel like we can’t have fun (even if we are) just because other people are doing more exciting things at the moment.

We share the best parts of our lives on our social media accounts. These social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are becoming overwhelming for some people. We always want something we can’t have. Our anxiety levels increase significantly when the thought that something that’s essential for our happiness blends with the anguish of constantly feeling like we’re lacking something important.

Friends on their phones.

FOMO syndrome is on the rise thanks to new technologies

We could say that the fear of missing out has always existed. However, due to smartphones and the existence of social networks, it has become something else: a fundamental human motivation due to our need to belong.

Being part of a group is an important factor in social identity and a key component in self-esteem. This is why social media networks play a fundamental role in the current relationships between individuals.
Thanks to new technologies, we’re always aware of what others are doing. Therefore, we always know what we’re missing out on. This is what really generates the FOMO syndrome, which makes us feel anxious, excluded, and rejected.

According to a study, 3 out of 10 people between the ages of 13 and 34 have been victims of the FOMO syndrome at least once. It usually happens when they find out their friends are doing exciting things without them. Has this ever happened to you?