More than an insecurity, FOMO can be a disease

Hanine El Mir & Abbass NasserDin

Staff Writer & Arabic Sports Editor


With the increasing presence of social media, FOMO, short for ‘Fear of Missing Out,’ became a very powerful phenomenon.  While there are different types, FOMO essentially boils down to the fear of missing out on what other people are doing.

People suffering from FOMO engage in activities due to the fear that if they don’t, they will miss out on an experience.They constantly push themselves to do more, past the point of exhaustion.

Indeed, the introduction of social media to everyday life has increased people’s chances of feeling like they’re missing out on events, because they have access to what everyone on their newsfeed is doing.

One of the main culprits in this debacle is Facebook. The social media platform became a mean by which teens and adolescents measure their likeability: the more likes you get, the more appreciation you gain.

Therefore, missing out an event becomes a wasted opportunity to post about it on social media. According to a German study, a third of Facebook users feel worse off after having scrolled through their newsfeed.

With the recent boom of stories on more than one platform, users are showered with miniclips of their friends having fun, or simply being out. The user may then feel obliged go out simply for the purpose of uploading a story,  as to stay involved in the social loop.

Social media platforms allow users to embellish their reality, making their life appear more attractive to all the users who watch their posts.

In 2017, many social media users go by the saying “If it’s not online, it didn’t happen.” Humans of the 21st century could occupy their time with all sorts of activities ,yet they would still feel like they are not doing or achieving anything in their life when they attend that one event that their acquaintance posted about on Facebook.

Unfortunately for a lot of people suffering from it, FOMO isn’t recognized by psychiatrists, yet. It was not officially included in the last edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The American Psychiatric Association, which has published five editions of the DSM, has yet to acknowledge this aspect of one’s personality as a psychological disorder. In 2013, the acronym “FOMO” was introduced to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Entrepreneurs and business gurus have invested in the sweeping wave of FOMO sentiments among tweens, teens, and millennials. Companies have recognized the fact that 3 out of 4 millennials are more likely to spend their money on events rather than material items. Accordingly, the music festivals industry has flourished and recorded high profits in recent years, according to Eventbrite.

FOMO can create a sentiment of incompleteness, of yearning for more, looking to fill an empty gap. But in the end, nobody has the time or capacity to be present at everything happening in the world.

One of FOMO’s symptoms is to constantly compare lives, and measure the popularity and enjoyment through social posts. Comparing lives will only cause users to enjoy what they’re doing less, while other people might be looking at their posts too, wishing they had the same lives, and the cycle repeats itself.

In the age scrolls, likes and shares, FOMO can become very overwhelming. For it not to become handicapping and paralyzing, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to take a moment to breathe, and know that it is impossible to be everywhere and do everything at the same time.

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