FOMO-Fear of Missing Out

By Dr. David Greenfield, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction


The fear of missing out (FOMO) as it implies is that we are so connected or “plugged in” to our digital devices that we actually experience fear or anxiety when we lose that electronic tether to the our Internet world. Whether that connection occurs via our smartphone, Ipad, laptop, or some other Internet–enabled digital device the result is essentially the same. We experience a withdrawal-like feeling when we either loose access or are afraid we might lose access. The whole premise of FOMO is that there is something going on in cyberspace that is better than what we are doing right now.  We might feel we will miss something important, or that we might see, via face book, twitter, or other social media, that people are living a better, more exciting life than we are living and we are somehow “missing out”.

We can be actively engaged in our daily life and enjoying ourselves but still feel an almost compulsive need to check our Smartphone, email, texts, tweets, or face book to see if there is something we are missing out on.  FOMO is an irrational fear based on the premise that there is always something better out there at any given moment or that you have to be totally and completely plugged in  at all times.

What is the cure for FOMO? Ironically, its to “plug back into Lifesm”and by that I mean real-timesm  living in the moment. Be present with what you are doing now.  Avoid digital distraction. Use your Internet and digital devices if and when you need to and not to allay an anxiety that you will somehow miss out. The irony is that if you fear you\’ll miss out on something or someone, you will miss everything you are trying to experience now:  in essence we create Missing Out (MO) by being so focused on FOMO.  The truth is that we are only imagining missing out if we leave our smartphone home or even turn it off.  Most things will keep until we have the time and attention to check them, otherwise FOMO will rule our lives and we will become slaves to our digital devices instead of being served by them.

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