By Rebecca Taylor
I started hearing the term “FOMO” only recently, after someone commented the word on another friend’s Instagram post under a photo of her bungee jumping. I was intrigued, but confused, and after learning what it meant I experienced a moment that happens every time I browse deadly diseases on WebMD. I realized I had it.
FOMO, the fear of missing out, was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013, and the definition states that it is “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” It’s mostly experienced by those in their twenties and thirties, who see life being lived by their peers and feel left out. The constant stream of seeing friends succeed in various aspects of their life while they are stuck at home ordering Chinese food and watching The Office on Netflix is slightly traumatic for some. Scrolling through news feeds full of people getting engaged, having babies, having hangovers, and just generally having a great time leads many to feel inadequate.
39% of men and 49% of women are reported to experience FOMO in their twenties. That FOMO leads to the psychologically-confirmed “quarter-life crisis”, which 86% of people in their twenties have reported feeling. This crisis is more profound as the social media revolution continues, and as we continue to see everything cool that people are doing, and everything not-cool we are doing.
On a more serious note, the total overload of FOMO and social media can lead to a vicious depressive cycle. General dissatisfaction with one’s life is worsened by watching everyone else’s. A 2014 study by the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found a correlation behind depression and anxiety with social media usage. Social media is hurting our brains, and the only cure is less social media.
Crisis’s and FOMO may have been a thing in our parent’s and grandparent’s generations, but it is undeniable that it is worsened by social media. As we navigate the choppy seas of oversharing, hopefully people will learn that everything you see on social media isn’t the whole truth, and that their lives are ever-changing.
Carlin, Shannon, Mind • Wellness, and Photographed By Erin Yamagata. “THIS Leads To FOMO & We’re Not At All Surprised.” FOMO Internet Fault Science Says. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.
Strong, Rebecca. “Social Media, FOMO and the Perfect Storm for the Quarter-Life Crisis.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 May 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.