Fear of Missing Out

I recently read an article in the Journal of Science and Healing that discussed a new phenomena called FOMO, or fear of missing out. The following explanation is extrapolated from the research done by psychologist Andrew Przybylski of the University of Essex, and colleagues at University of California-Los Angeles and University of Rochester. Here are their findings “ *FOMO is a driving force behind social media use. *FOMO levels are highest in young people and young men in particular. *Low levels of need satisfaction and life satisfaction are linked to high FOMO. *FOMO is high in those who engage in distracted driving. *FOMO is high in students who use social media during classes.

What many of us don’t realize is that believing that we are connecting through a “social network” is an oxymoron. I have witnessed individuals having dinner with friends while their cell phones sit next to their plate. If they hear the ping of a text or an e-mail, they start twitching, their hand reaching out almost involuntarily to grab the phone. After all, whoever is calling has clearly got to be paid attention to because it could be the Queen of England or someone of equal importance that needs your counsel. Could it be more serious than that like a child or parent in distress? Yes, but the chances of that are slim. Does the need to know who is calling exceed realizing that you are being rude and distracted from being in the present moment?

Many of us have been witness to the above and have become somewhat deadened to it. What we haven’t come to grips with is that 3,000 teens die annually from texting, and 300,000 sustain injuries from texting while driving. Oh yes, adults do it too, but their bliss comes from talking on their cell. I stood on a corner in my hometown once and practically every driver was talking on their cell. It has been shown that reaction time slows to that of a seventy year old driver and doubles the likelihood of an accident. The rationale from those who do it is that if you have a passenger you talk to them. But the good news is they can warn you if you’re in danger, it’s another set of eyes. The person on the phone can’t do that, unless their imbued with telekinesis.

What I find fascinating is that all the energy that goes into not missing out is creating a life that enables “missing out”. Believe me, I am not advocating getting rid of our phones and tech gadgets. But, we do need to give us ourselves a reality check. Try disconnecting from FOMO for even a couple of hours a day so you can really connect to where you are and who you’re with.

About lorettalaroche

An international stress management and humor consultant whose wit, and irreverent humor, has, for over 30 years raised the humor potential in all of us. She is on the Mass General advisory council for anxiety and depression and was recently awarded the National Humor Treasure Award. Loretta writes a weekly newspaper column called, ‘Get a Life’.

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3 Responses to Fear of Missing Out

  1. gypsy says:

    FOMO because there is so much going on all the time? hundreds of radio and tv channels including what is online. Sadly most is so mediocre it’s a distraction at best.
    I’m hearing Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is?”

  2. yaisage says:

    When I was in my 20’s, a friend said to me, “Life’s a big party, and I didn’t get an invitation.” She felt like that every moment of every day. I said, “Let’s make our own party! Let’s party here or wherever we happen to be.”

    • yaisage says:

      Yaisage again: I didn’t mean to be flippant. Yesterday someone told me about a teen suicide and all her classmates grieving because they understood why she did it and couldn’t help her. Our kids are hurting. Media and technology are not helping them. They need HOPE!

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