The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is that right now somewhere there’s someone having a better time, life, job, vacation, or whatever you think of – than you are. Seth Godin wrote a post about it that I liked and abridged below.
FOMO seems to be baked in. For example, as freshmen we knew that some cool kid was at some party that we weren’t at. Now, someone else making more money, doing something more important, with better friends, and with a happier ending, than you are.
In other words you feel like you’re missing out. Something in your universe isn’t right. There’s something happening that might affect you, annoy you, making things not “all right.” Some looming crisis is out there.
It turns out that joy is hard to find, even with all the leverage, assets and privileges we’ve amassed. We’ve set ourselves up to avoid it at every turn. Electronic media profits from connecting us, mostly it stirs up our feelings.
Smart phones can amplify our choices of social media, making FOMO harder to avoid wherever you are, it’s just a vibration away.
Meanwhile, your lizard brain works to make everything okay. The lizard brain won’t rest until it knows that everyone likes you, you’re offending no one, and all the gauges are indicating a brighter future. But of course, the future (and the present) isn’t perfect. It can’t be.
The lizard brain mixed with being increasingly exposed to what others are doing increases our unease. The combo works to make us distracted, unhappy and desiring to be somewhere else.
FOMO isn’t the dissatisfaction of you challenging yourself to be a better you because that’s an internal discussion not measured against the instant updates from everyone else.
The only place joy can be found is right here and right now. Everyone who’s selling you dissatisfaction is working for their own selfish ends.