A term popularized in 2004 by a Harvard grad student, the fear of missing out, or FOMO, is the reason many of us can’t stop checking online media when we have work to do.
Is there something going on we don’t know about and should? Would we be happier if we knew more? Probably not, and deep down, we know it. Studies show that social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat can, if we focus on comparing ourselves to others, make us feel depressed. It’s the opposite of the desired effect.
I understand. It’s not easy to stop refreshing the news feed when something big is going on, and I’ve found it almost impossible over the past few weeks.
Just what do we think we can do about bad news? Like “gaper delay” on the highway – slowing down as we pass a wreck to see how bad it is – we can’t ignore it, and maybe that wouldn’t be wise, but it sure puts a damper on our day.
Most of what claims our attention is bad, sad or divisive. My real-life friends post opinions about politics and the angry comments start. Why do we bother? It just makes us feel bad, and I doubt anyone’s mind was changed by reading Facebook or Twitter. It’s the in person contacts that create true connection between people.
When I was young, jokes about people different from me were uncomfortable but I didn’t think much about them, until I met marginalized people who became my friends and family. It was only then that I understood their pain and wanted to make it go away.
When we spend less time online and more in person, there can be no FOMO. We’re all in this real world together. Too much time living “virtually” makes us forget that.
That’s my story. What’s yours?
Do you have a way to counteract FOMO you can share?