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

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series FoMO
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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Fear of Missing Out: Just an affliction of young adults?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series FoMO
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: Does FOMO drive the tragedy of the commons?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series FoMO
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: Are we infecting our kids with FOMO?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series FoMO
WikiWorld Greg Williams cartoon Helicopter Parent

Interested in the problems posed by Helicopter Parents? I wrote an earlier series about parenting that you can see by clicking on this image.

incessant fear of missing out is usually considered a problem of the young. There’s no doubt that Millennials suffer FOMO, especially those who are hyperactive users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

But many people fear missing out and parents are chief among them. In fact, futurist Faith Popcorn predicts that FOMO will become the “disorder du jour for helicopter parents.”

I may be Exhibit #1.

Last year, my son was involved in an overwhelming mix of extracurricular activities. In addition to his schoolwork, his weekly schedule included travel soccer (practices and games), martial arts, music (lessons, recitals, auditions), multiple Science Olympiad practices, and more. He had two or three events a day after school. My wife and I were continually driving him here and there. It was stressful for all of us.

We never intended for him to be over-committed. He was interested in each activity. But it was fear of missing out that created the overwhelming situation. He shouldn’t miss out, we thought, on any activity he wanted to try. What if Science Olympiad kindled an interest in science as a career? We can’t have him miss that opportunity. What if he demonstrated athletic talent and skill in soccer? He should have the opportunity to give it a shot. And music—can’t have him miss all the opportunities there. His interest in music might blossom into a career.

Social comparison fueled the fear of missing out. Other parents had their kids in many after-school activities. Wouldn’t we be remiss as parents if we didn’t do the same? We had to make sure he didn’t miss out.

Never again.

We learned our lesson. He can’t do everything. Choices have to be made. Hard as it is, he’ll have to miss out on some things.

Does FOMO influence your family decisions?
Are your kids overcommitted?
What are your guidelines for making good choices?

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: How about JOMO? (Joy of Missing Out!)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series FoMO
StayFocusd_-_Chrome_Web_Store

The StayFocusd app doesn’t mess around! There’s even a “Nuclear Option” to “NUKE” your online distractions. Click this image to learn more about the app.

Fear of missing out has always been a concern. What’s new is social media, which enables and fuels this fear. This technology-infused elevated level of fear of missing out has also given us a new acronym: FOMO.

Have you heard a related term—JOMO? It’s the joy of missing out, and it’s arisen as an antidote to FOMO. Check out this Guardian column on JOMO as just one example.

The core value of JOMO is self determination. Instead of focusing on what you’re missing, it means focusing on what you choose to do—and being present when you are doing it, whatever that may be. It’s the recognition that saying “no” to one thing is saying “yes” to something else. And, it means limiting the influence of social comparisons and what everyone else appears to be doing. JOMO is inner directed rather than outer directed.

And … There’s an App for that!

Ironically, there are apps that can help you manage your fear of missing out and find more joy in what you are doing. Among the 10 apps featured in this article, here are 3 that stood out for me:

Self-control makes your browser appear to be offline for a period of time. You can blacklist certain distracting web sites, or whitelist a few you let through.

Tracking Time is time tracking software. It a record of all your activities on the computer and produces a report that reveals what you are actually doing. You may think you spend only 15 minutes a day on Facebook, but learn that you actually spend much more!

Stay Focusd (and, no, that’s not a typo—there’s no “e” in the name) sets a time budget for using social media. Once you hit your time limit, you can’t use social media for the rest of the day. Sort of like a parent who lets you play videogames for an hour, but then homework time!

Do you find joy in missing out?

How do you manage the fear of missing out?

Would apps like these help?

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!

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized