[I]f the first thing you do upon waking each morning is grab your tablet or smart phone, then you might have FOMO. What is it, and is there a cure? FOMO stands for ‘Fear of Missing Out’–that gut ache when the electricity goes out, wondering if you’ve missed a really cool and informative meme poster or the latest Tweet from Cher.
It’s easy to laugh at the notion of a social media addiction, but many now reading this article would be hard-pressed to go for more than a day without posting in your favorite chat room or internet hub. Citizenry in developing nations choose to interact virtually rather than through telephone or in person visits–and that is especially true of Gen X and Y. Kids born in the 1990s cut their teeth on bits and bytes, and those born after 2000 would laugh if you suggested they call you rather than send a quick text.
According to a recent study, more than a quarter of those polled would willingly dump their cigarettes in exchange for social media–if a choice had to be made. Compare that to 3% who would trade sex for social media–of course, that is another article entirely!
The Internet has allowed me to connect with loads of people from all over the world, many of whom are listeners to our podcast, but many others are old school chums or friends from my ‘former life’ (pre-Derek) in Indianapolis or Bloomington. I cherish these connections, but following the daily updates can prove burdensome. There simply are not enough minutes in the day to clean my house, spoil my dog, cook meals, write and research, AND keep up with every status update. Does that make me a victim of Fear of Missing Out Syndrome? Perhaps–in fact, probably.
So what is the cure? I periodically take a vacation from social media–a FaceTweet fast, preferring to live a more ‘analog’ life with house, home, and manuscripts. In fact, our electricity went out earlier today, and my first thought was ‘no Internet!’–but then, I realized how peaceful the house was without the hum of computers and modems. All we could hear was the patter of rain and the singing of finches. The only hum was that of a trio of hummingbirds fighting over a feeder on our deck.
The bottom line is that social media is here to stay, and it can play an important role in our connected lives, but it should never dominate our lives. It is not a substitute for human, face-to-face interactions. So, if you find yourself reaching for your Internet device to read the latest at Digg or Twitter, do yourself a favor and unplug and savor the hum of hummingbirds.
To read more about the recent FOMO study, go to: More Than Half of Social Media Users Suffer From FOMO – Technology Digital.