This is possibly one of the biggest fear that access to technology brung to humanity. The fear of missing out is anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media. You probably never realised you had this fear or never too a step back wondering why you needed so much to check your phone to check what happened. There has been quite a lot of article about it in the news, I wanted to give another thought on it, not by describing it but looking into the root cause of this fear.
The smartphones era
I don’t think our ancestors ever experienced FOMO syndrome before. Radio and newspapers are existing for a while, but smartphones are definitely the first time that humans have a device always-on, connected to World Wide Web that they can carry with them all the time. When was the last time your turn off your phone? I guess 90% of us never turn it off, and the only place we could still miss out in the past few years was when on a plane, but today most planes even have wifi on board.
Where does it come from ?
I don’t think that traditional medias are a cause of FOMO, only social medias can be seen as the very beginning of the fear of missing out. The option to have live feeds of informations, which is in my opinion the not so far away ancestor of infinity scrolling, are the starting point of us trying to keep on with the massive amount of news coming from our social network.
To put in perspective, it’s quite easy to give up reading the news or listening to the radio, even myself, who always enjoyed being aware of what’s happening in the World, I don’t find it that difficult to give up on that.
But when it comes to deleting facebook or Instagram, we are more close to an addiction problem than anything else. Addiction to not missing what’s going on with our friends and families, of the new trend, or of the new series we must watch on Netflix or Disney +. Not only content, we might miss a conversation or a message from someone, which feels like getting rid of a true communication device.
Why is it important ?
Just by writing this article, I realize how ridiculous we are, and how addict to news social media made us. From the beginning the heart of social medias’ revenues is advertizing. Based on this fact, we immediately can suppose that social media companies main goal is to make us connect to their services as much as possible, and to make us come back. And this explains why facebook developed Messenger for example, or bought Whatsapp and Instagram for an insane amount of cash, the more service you own and interconnect, the more it makes it impossible for your customers to get rid of one or another, or to not use it. Not only we innocently gave these company access to our data, to our conversation and to our privacy, we gave them the tools to make us totally addicted to their services.
Exiting this system is accepting to miss out on what’s going on within our network. In the end we probably don’t earn much personally from these networks but there will always be that person you met and changed your life on it, yes it would have never happened without you deep scrolling on Instagram reels.
I think the most important is here to realize we are addicted, and try to understand how it works and how it affects our daily lives. From that, we can maybe decide to reduce our time on these services or take a break sometimes, go out and live our lives without the need to let know everyone else. Think about what you earn from Instagram vs what you have to give up for it.
For example, instead of talking to your loved one or doing something nice, you are staring at your screen, then think about it, do you value more news from people you are not even close to that what you can make and live with your friend/ partner. Think about the impact it has on your quality of life, and also on your mental health. $
A negative impact on your mental health
Mental health is super important, and there are countless examples of Instagram very dangerously impacting the life of many people for example. I tried it myself on a new account, I wanted to know if the algorithm would target me hardcore with certain types of contents after I would type a few specific keywords in the search-bar of the app.
It didn’t take more than 3 searches for my feed being flooded with contents only related to my search. I was ultimately flooded by many pseudo life coaches who would publish unverified and dodgy informations. I can not imagine the effect on someone who would not be critical over it, it would make them ultimately more nervous about these subjects.
If this article made you realize that FOMO is impacting your mental health way more than you would like to, I can only recommend you to talk to a practitioner about it, because mental health is too important to be set aside. On a personal note, my own life has totally changed when I decided to regularly invest in my own mental health, there is no taboo in seeing someone.