Though the term FOMO, or the fear of missing out, was created in the Eighties, it has gone viral now thanks to social networking and smart phones.
Have you ever been on on a date and caught yourself obsessively checking Facebook on your phone every few minutes? Do you get hassled if you lose connection to the internet and your News Feed doesn’t get updated? Do you text while driving to avoid wasting time? Are you hooked to Whatsapp because you know when someone was “last seen at”? If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you probably suffer from FOMO.
According to Wikipedia, “FOMO is an acronym for the social disorder ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. Coined by Kelley J Watson and Diane E. Meyer nee Wells in 1985, FOMO is a label for the sadness one feels when knowing he/she is missing a good time with loved ones, the worry one feels that memories are being made that he/she will not have, or the anxiety one feels when deciding between multiple equally fun-sounding events.”
Anushka Singh, a collegian admits: “I enjoy socialising. I often find myself in a position where I can’t decide which party to attend when I have been invited to several dos on the same night. I either try to squeeze in time to be at all these places or if I have friends at the other gigs, I constantly text them for updates about what’s happening there.”
“I hate being the last one to know about something,” says Arjun Kumar, an engineer. “Whether it is the cricket score or a friend’s review on Facebook about a newly-released film, I hate waiting to find out what’s happening. FOMO has surely gripped me because there are times when I’ve forgotten my car keys in my car but I’ve never left my phone behind.”
In the era of social media, it’s hard to ignore the FOMO effect which manifests itself when one checks in at a restaurant, tags friends in a solo picture so as to get friends to notice and ‘like’ the photo, etc. There are people who even invest in Smartphones thanks to FOMO.
“My mother joined Facebook recently,” says Sushmita Narang, a freelance designer. “I was on vacation in Greece and couldn’t obviously keep emailing her pictures, she bought herself a BlackBerry on which she could keep a lookout for status updates and pictures posted by me. FOMO is definitely not an age specific disorder. Everyone has it.”
Shireen Sait, a counsellor, says: “With more technological advancement, cases of FOMO are only bound to increase. It stems from the information overload. FOMO seems related to social anxiety disorders where a person is not anxious about the situation he’s in but about but about not being able to decide which social situation to be a part of.”
For those who suffer from FOMO, she advises: “You have to accept that you can’t be everywhere at any given time and one needs to make a conscious effort not to make other’s lives the focus of their own lives.”
While reading this article, if you’ve already refreshed your Facebook page or checked to see if your better half is ‘online’ on Whatsapp yet, chances are, you’ve succumbed to FOMO too!