Fear of Missing Out: Does FOMO drive the tragedy of the commons?

Clearing rainforest for farmland in southern Mexico.

A classic example of the tragedy of commons: Widespread destruction of rainforests to make way for agriculture. This photo was taken after fire was used in a rainforest clearance, then it was provided via Wikimedia Commons for public use.

Do you know the dilemma called the tragedy of the commons?

It occurs when individuals make decisions according to self-interest; but when everyone does that, their individual actions deplete or destroy a common resource so that all are hurt. The classic example is free grazing on public land. It’s rational for me to let my herd eat freely, but when all herdsmen do the same, we end up destroying the fields. The tragedy of the commons applies to many situations, such as overpopulation and the arms’ race, as described by ecologist Garrett Hardin in what has now become a classic scientific article.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) can hasten the tragedy. How do we know?

Consider this final exam question by University of Maryland psychologist Dylan Selterman. If this question was posed to you, what would you answer? [Spoiler alert: I tell you what students answer below.]

“Here you have the opportunity to earn some extra credit on your final paper grade. Select whether you want 2 points or 6 points added onto your final paper grade. But there’s a catch: if more than 10% of the class selects 6 points, then no one gets any points. Your responses will be anonymous to the rest of the class, only I will see the responses.”
[ ] 2 points
[ ] 6 points

Selterman wasn’t the first psychologist to pose this dilemma. It’s well known in academic circles. But he might be the first to post it in the Twitterverse. And it’s creating quite a stir.

How many students do you think earned points? How many classes didn’t end up with any points? Selterman has used this final exam question since 2008.

Over the years, only one class earned points. One.

Selterman says it’s another case of FOMO. Students pick 6 points because they’re afraid of missing out. But when too many students opt for 6 points, everyone loses.

Now, it’s a big leap from an extra-credit exam question to “real life.” But the role of FOMO and the tragedy of the commons is worth considering.

Would you select 2 points or 6 points?
What was your rationale?
Does FOMO hasten the tragedy of the commons?

Your opinion matters …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Fear of Missing Out: Just an affliction of young adults?

Dilbert Fear of Missing Out FOMO

Scott Adams frequently lampoons workers who lose the ability to separate work anxiety from the rest of their lives.

Fear of Missing Out—FOMO for short—plagues many young adults who constantly feel they’re missing something great. Social media exacerbates the condition because it enables instant communication and updates about all the fantastic events you’re missing.

But, you don’t need to be a social media fanatic to suffer FOMO.

And you don’t need to be a young adult. In today’s world of work, many feel they’re missing out—missing the perfect job opening, a critical update, or the freshest gossip.

Is this your experience at work?

In the past, there seemed to be a clearer separation between work life and personal life. Today’s always-on 24/7 world of work is much different. The line between personal life and work life are blurring, and it’s often one’s personal life that suffers.

How pervasive is FOMO? Indeed.com, a major job site, conducted a survey to find out. They found that “an average of 45% of respondents missed co-workers or aspects of their job in some capacity while out of the office,” according to a report on the BusinessWire.

Missing your co-workers or aspects of you job may not sound like a bad thing per se. But it illuminates a larger issue. Detachment from work is healthy. Research on engagement at work shows that detachment replenishes the emotional batteries. Failing to disconnect or distance results in burnout. FoMo makes it harder than ever to detach from work.

Do you suffer FOMO in your work life?

Are you able to detach from work? If so, what works for you?

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Fear of Missing Out: Do you suffer FOMO? Take the test!

FoMO faux toothpaste

Never heard of FoMO until today? Wow. You’re missing out! Online writers already are having lots of fun lampooning this growing anxiety with faux products like this toothpaste. Come on, get with it! (And, seriously, you’ll have lots of fun discussing this with friends.)

FoMO is a modern affliction. It’s Fear of Missing Out.

Aided and abetted by technology, it is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent,” say researchers in Computers in Human Behavior. (Here is the link to the report on this study, although this is a journal that charges for access, so you might want to check with your library if you’re interested in this topic.)

FoMO throw pillow (1)FOMO drives people “to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does it sound like you?

Ask friends about this and you’ll start a lively discussion! Ask them on social media and—well, think about it for a moment: They’ll prove my point.

FOMO is a contemporary expression of the age-old anxiety that the grass might be greener on the other side. Today, however, social media lets you stay up-to-date on the location of all the attractive places with (possibly) greener grass.

So, why is FOMO a problem?

People afflicted with FOMO tend to experience lower life satisfaction, less happiness, and more anxiety, the researchers found. FOMO can be so acute that victims can’t resist using social media during lectures. (Fear of missing out on the lecture doesn’t seem to be a concern.)

Peanuts FoMO cartoonFOMO is a cause of distracted driving. The results can be fatal. Distracted driving caused 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The more people use social media, the more likely they are afflicted with FOMO (and vice versa). Teens are more likely than their parents to suffer FoMO, but adults are not off the hook. Many parents also use social media while they drive. FOMO is an epidemic that spreads well beyond teens, as we’ll discuss this week.

Want to know if you have FOMO? Want to see where you fit in the overall population?

The researchers developed and validated a scientific survey to measure FOMO. It takes about 2 minutes, and includes question such as “It bothers me when I miss an opportunity to meet up with friends” and “When I have a good time it is important for me to share the details online.”

Take the quiz!
http://www.ratemyfomo.com

Do you suffer FOMO?
Have you had an accident or close call while driving under the influence of social media?
What’s your score on the FOMO test?

Talk with friends …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Comic Values: Create your own! Kurt Kolka launched the Cardinal.

The_Cardinal_by_Kurt_Kolka_-_Part_One___Anti-Bullying_Comics

Click the comic to learn more about “Bullying Is No Laughing Matter.”

COMICS are supremely democratic.

Anyone can create a comic. Generations of schoolkids have known that it’s easy to create comics with paper and a few simple supplies: pencils, pens and maybe crayons. Today, kids can produce sophisticated audio and video with their hand-held digital devices—but countless kids still are inspired by their comic heroes to sketch their own tales of adventure on scraps of paper. Often, they do it during class!

Looked at another way: Comics are democratic in their values, as well. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at how Little Orphan Annie embodies all 10 of Dr. Wayne Baker’s list of 10 American core values.

And from another perspective: Comics are democratic because they spring up everywhere and slip past cultural gatekeepers. That’s why the parade of American comics, across the past century, reflects the good, the bad and the ugly of American attitudes toward ourselves and the world.

Finally, proof that comics are democratic can be seen in the huge grassroots community that has formed around our collective love of comics. Just take a look at the dozens of Comic Cons indexed via Wikipedia. And Comic Con is just one form of comic gathering!

One of the comic creators who has fully embraced this democratic medium is Kurt Kolka, the creator of the Cardinal superhero and the organizer of the Bullying Is No Laughing Matter project.

Did you ever sketch a comic?

What comics appeal to you? Why?

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Comic Values: Rabbi Harvey and other minority heroes

RabbiHarvey (1)

Click on this comic to learn more about “Bullying Is No Laughing Matter.”

COMICS looked very white—and comic heroes looked very male—for many decades. For the most part, they still do.

Yes, true comic fans can point to a handful of classic comic heroines as well as heroes of non-European ethnicity who broke into the exclusive club of superheroes many years ago. But even those pioneers, by today’s standards, carried lots of bias and baggage with them into the “funny papers.”

Of course, Asia has its own robust comic culture—but we’re exploring American comics, this week. And attempts at diversifying the American comics universe have been few and far between.

That’s why news about comic diversity made the front page of the New York Times’s Arts section on Tuesday. The highly respected journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates (he’s a correspondent for The Atlantic and a nominee for the National Book Award) has written an epic story for Marvel Comics’ African hero: Black Panther.

In 1966, Black Panther became the first black superhero in American comics and Coates, who now is 39, recalls the importance of these early pioneers in diversity. Coates told The Times that comics were “an intimate part of my childhood and, at this point, my adulthood.”

Coates is not alone among established writers in turning to this medium. Another unusual comic creator is Steve Sheinkin, who writes and draws Rabbi Harvey of the Wild West. Sheinkin’s day job for many years was writing material for history textbooks used in public schools. He grew frustrated over the limitations placed on textbooks by schoolboards. Too often, he felt, authors were barred from including “the good stuff”—quirky, controversial, funny stories about American history. That led Sheinkin to write his own wonderfully creative histories, including Which Way to the Wild West? and the Civil War-era Two Miserable Presidentsboth books with subtitles that begin: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About …

In the realm of comics, Sheinkin created a rabbi who roams the Wild West, looking a bit like Clint Eastwood’s Jewish brother, and resolving all manner of deadly situations with Jewish wisdom rather than firearms. He deliberately set Rabbi Harvey in a historical era that is central to Hollywood’s mythic depiction of our country: the Wild West.

What minority comics have you seen?

Is there a superhero you’d like to see?

Challenge your friends to dream up a superhero who they’d love to see jump into the heart of American culture, today! Get out pencils, pens, crayons and paper. Have some fun!

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Comic Values: Beetle Bailey and America’s Greatest Generation

Beetle-Bailey-1 (1)

Click on this comic to learn more about “Bullying Is No Laughing Matter.”

BEETLE BAILEY wandered into American life in 1950. He wasn’t even in the Army yet; he wouldn’t enlist until 1951. In fact, he was a laid-back college student, taking life so easily that newspaper readers over the past 65 years have never seen his eyes.

(Note to Beetle Bailey fans: Yes, you’re right, there was at least one comic strip in which Mort Walker showed Beetle’s eyes, but that strip never appeared in the newspaper series—only in archival collections.)

What values does Beetle embody? In thousands of comic strips, the characters have shown us many perspectives on American values. But, let’s focus on the most obvious: He was a pioneer in the way Americans would regard what Tom Brokaw would later call the Greatest Generation—Americans who were born in the Depression and somehow served in World War II.

No, of course, Beetle wasn’t a WWII veteran. But he showed how hugely popular military humor could be in an era that soon would unleash a tidal wave of “funny” TV series and movies about military service. By 1955, Americans would be laughing at The Phil Silvers Show, aka Sgt. Bilko. Then, in the 1960s, families laughed at McHale’s Navy and Gomer Pyle USMC. By 1965, we were willing to laugh at World War II prisoners of war in Hogan’s Heroes. Of course, that was before, in the 1970s, network TV shocked Americans with full-scale coverage of the Holocaust and stories about any kind of WWII prisoners turned realistically grim.

Through it all, Beetle was—and remains—a happy-go-lucky reflection on military life.

World-War-II-Veteran-baseball-cap (1)As an online magazine, we’ve been covering issues related to American veterans, especially WWII veterans. Did you know that WWII vets are dying at a rate of close to 500 a day, which means less than 1 million of the 16 million who served in that war are left. (Care to read more about this? Here’s an earlier story.)

Are you a veteran? What do you think about how veterans are regarded today? What do you think about how military life is portrayed today?

Not a veteran? How do you regard men and women who have served in the military?

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Comic Values: Little Orphan Annie and ‘United America’

LittleOrphanAnnie (1)

Click on this comic to learn more about “Bullying Is No Laughing Matter.”

Before she was a Broadway smash and the headliner in a series of movies, Little Orphan Annie was one of America’s most beloved and longest-running comic strips. Americans have forgotten lots of the history behind the immortal Annie.

Did you know? At one point, Daddy Warbucks actually dies and is absent from the comic strip for quite a while—but he’s such a popular character that he springs back to life later in the series! And, because Annie’s image is frozen in the Great Depression in the hit musical bearing her name, most Americans don’t realize that she was created in the Roaring ’20s.

Annie owes a huge debt to the novels of Cervantes, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and Horatio Alger Jr.—about lovable characters cast into a cruel world to make their way.

Throughout her nearly century-long lifespan as an eternal little girl, Annie also has embodied the 10 American core values described in United AmericaShe certainly displays respect for others, symbolic patriotism, freedom, self-reliance & individualism, equal opportunity, getting ahead, pursuit of happiness and justice & fairness. That’s eight of the ten in United America. She celebrates the entire list if we add: Her World War II service with Daddy Warbucks in supporting the American war effort embodies the core value of national security. And, by living much of her life among people who have received raw deals from the American system, she also touches on critical patriotism.

In the Bullying Is No Laughing Matter collection of American comics, Annie is showcased in her most famous role: Sticking up for the underdog and relentlessly defeating bullies.

What do you know about Annie? Beyond the musical, have you read her comic strips?

Could a character like Annie emerge today? What contemporary heroes do you think embody some of Annie’s all-American qualities?

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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