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!

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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