“FOMO”

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I was speaking with a friend Saturday about the large number of high school and college students who are beset with anxiety. I told her that I thought that things hadn’t changed much since I was in school, but she challenged my complacency. She said that many young people were obsessed with FOMO. I looked at her blankly, and she clarified–Fear Of Missing Out.

When I was that age, I had two means of finding out what was going on with my friends and others my age. One was personal observation and the other was the telephone. They were the sum total of my “social media.” Now, she told me, young people(and probably not so young people) have a constant fear of missing out on something. Either a news item, a bit of gossip, a YouTube video, a tweet, an Instagram or who knows what else.

In addition, they are continually looking at Facebook to see what everyone is up to(and apparently having every bit of information about them collected and sold by Facebook!) Since all of these are visual media, and since all are mediated through whatever lens the one posting wants, few of them are as complex as real life. Most selfies show happy, happy people eating wonderful food in exciting places with other happy, happy people.

For many years we used to receive Christmas letters extolling the accomplishments of each member of the distant family. We used to come up with parodies of those letters, recounting actual family life. We didn’t get a letter every day complete with photos. Perhaps if we had, we too would have been plagued with a real case of FOMO.

8 thoughts on ““FOMO”

  1. Your post was really insightful and stimulated some interesting thoughts for me. I don’t do Facebook, but reading your post makes me think that I’d want to post pictures depicting the less fun and glamorous scenes of my daily life. Reality! Things like lying under our car with greasy tools scattered everywhere or digging out in the septic field. And I liked your comparison of social media to Christmas card letters. I always found those somewhat shallow and annoying. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear those parodies!

    1. I think more reality does come through in the blogs people write. Probably not as much as you would gather in person, but more than Facebook. Looking forward to those greasy tool pictures. My husband finally got rid of a huge pipe he had dragged home to ???(it might be useful one day.) Fortunately we live where you can put stuff on the curb and people take it for scrap metal. It was gone almost immediately.

  2. I feel like I can say that I do not suffer from FOMO – until my internet is out. Then even if I weren’t planning to use the computer, I somehow believe that something important is going on in my absence. Love your writing!!!

    1. Thanks so much. I think I have gotten a little into FOMO with the current political crises in the U.S. Not that keeping us is making any difference! He usually reverses himself within hours anyway.

  3. Wonderful post, Elizabeth. Today’s FOMO is just a product of the “me” generation. FOMO is a result of lack of discipline. I see grown people, my wife is one of them, stop what they are doing when they hear a beep on the phone. Kids and some adults, act like they will be chastised for not responding immediately.

    Me? I leave my phone laying around and have to search for it. Think of the money to be made in therapy, if Facebook ever goes away. LOL

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