Do you have FOMO?

Sounds like a disease, right? Oh, it is. FOMO is the “fear of missing out,” as the New York Times cleverly reported this past week. The cause: Facebook – and other social networks that can’t notify you enough of what your friends are doing.

The availability and accessibility of content has caused an uproar “socially”; many people think their life is boring when comparing it to other individuals’ posts – whether it be an update, photo, or video of a concert, new baby, etc. I, for one, get rather envious when I see a particular “friend” post updates of his trips to Costa Rica to swim in the hot springs, or the fact that he sold not one but two houses in a couple hours as a part-time realtor on top of his full-time gig. It’s these types of posts that make people nauseated.

Thinking about the life my wife and I have, we’re both very busy. She’s got school, and I’m racing around like mad trying to keep up with the demands of digital and my clients. There is hardly any room for a trip to Costa Rica or Puerto Vallarta, the spot where we honeymooned almost a year ago. Sigh.

As Web-based interactions have really forced a blurring of professional and personal content-share, you too are undoubtedly a bit annoyed by the glamorous life some of your single colleagues and friends are living, as you’re seeing it all broadcast over your mobile device while you sit and eat dinner at home with your spouse on a Friday night.

What’s the solution to rid yourself of this FOMO you’re feeling? Take a hiatus from social networks for a month. I have one more week to go from taking a fast from Facebook (not for Lent either) and it’s been rather refreshing. While I have likely missed out on some big announcements, I have been able to separate myself from not only the posts that foster envy, but also the posts that are full-on drama. People love to complain on Facebook, as they’re hoping others can relate to or “like” their situation. Regardless of FOMO or drama, a break from social networks is good every now and then. Come April 16, I’ll be back on Facebook with a note about what I learned from my month-long hiatus.

The next time I see a post that tries to give me the FOMO bug, I think I’ll just suck it up to life being a bunch of trade-offs. In the world of social, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Have you caught the FOMO bug? If so, what’s been your cure or are you desperately searching for a cure?

Tim Otis is Supervisor of Social Media and PR for brand marketing agency Gabriel deGrood Bendt (GdB) in downtown Minneapolis. A five-year integrated and big idea marketer, Otis enjoys pitching media and teaching clients how to use social media effectively and responsibly. Apart from his work at GdB, Otis enjoys blogging, speaking, and writing songs for he and his wife to sing. You can follow him on Twitter @timotis.

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  • Anonymous

    A wonderfully liberating post, Tim! Don’t know if I’m ready to take a full one-month break from social media, but I do try to put that and e-mail aside on weekends. When & if I ever retire, I’ve vowed that my first act will be to drive to the dump and toss my cell phone and laptop in.

  • Once I graduated high school, EVERYONE started getting engaged. I remember in one week, four of my Facebook “friends” started posting ring pictures. My long-time boyfriend and I at the time had just broken up, so it was the ultimate FOMO moment. Like a slap in the face.

    (But now I’m married, so no more wedding FOMO! Lol.)

  • Anonymous

    I should mention that FOMO doesn’t just apply to those who are married and living vicariously through their friends’ updates; rather FOMO affects everyone. (Ha, sounds like one of those cheesy ads for a medical prescription).

  • CPiazza

    I agree with thejcrawford! I have had FOMO for years, it was just undiagnosed. There may be an occasional relapse and then I get involved in my life again and forget all about it. I think social, like life itself, can’t be compared to someone else’s – you just have to really appreciate what you have and live in the moment. Anyway, most of us know that we can purposely make anything look appealing, but whether it really is — sometimes that’s another story.

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  • Before reading this i was thinking what is FOMO, because i have never heard about this word but after reading this post i got complete information. So i just wanted to say we can’t judge a book through cover. Thanks for this great information.