FOMO – Are We Really Afraid of Missing Out?

During a short stay at L’Oréal, a large cosmetic conglomerate, I came across an article in one of the hundreds of magazines they got flooded with monthly. It made me look twice, as if you transpose the letters in a different way, the meaning would be unpublishable. The letters spelled FOMO, short for Fear Of Missing Out! Immediately taken aback by the prospect of what it was saying and ultimately bringing to the surface, making me cringe as I read on.

The universe of social media has turned everything we do mostly sideways. The levels of personal oversharing had long reached a fever pitch and as the article spoke to my scary self, I couldn’t help but feel annoyed that our social media graces, or lack thereof, were being exposed in a not so good light.  It turns out that we have an innate fear of missing out on what everyone else is participating in and posting. An unknown survey, which I chose to wholeheartedly believe said that we crave to be a part of as many events as possible in order to compete with what everyone else is or was doing. I bit the cap of my pen as my eyes scanned the rest of the article. From beginning to end, it was all about the exchange of information and nothing else. It provoked my thoughts to wonder of how much of it was true. I quickly judged my own feelings and if what was being written was real. Did I have my own fears of missing out?

Are we more complete somehow when we similarly share our major and not so major events of our everyday lives? Does anyone really need to know the inconsequential nature of my brownie baking with my dog on a Monday night while watching The Bachelor with a few friends? On the other hand, sharing a work promotion with my online community could not only bring on accolades but possibly create future allies in my field. At the center was the gnawing question that read like this… was I attempting to virtually one up my social media circle or simply permit them to catch a glimpse of my current events? I was left to wonder if all our sharing was the result of some silent competition we were embroiled in. After confirming with a few live friends over text, I realized that the answer would be different for everyone. My group chat confirmed that we all enjoy seeing what others are doing as well as sharing our own adventures; even the kind that take us to Starbucks and nothing more. Whether we chase what others are doing or simply enjoy knowing that there is someone in the cyberspace paying attention, it’s all a matter of personal perspective.

As we close the distance gap with those across the miles and drift further away from those sitting around our breakfast table, I ask if we really do have a fear of missing out; albeit missing all the wrong things. Staying connected should never be judged by the methods we take and the roads we travel to get there. Instead, let’s celebrate out victories and cheer for those of others. Mostly, let’s not forget to share the most important parts of us with those outside our online world and include them in our actual everyday.

Top photo: Bigstock