FOMO: Friend or Foe

FOMO is a modern acronym to describe the “Fear of Missing Out”. Often associated with exposure to social media posts of others having fun at parties, relaxing on beautiful beaches, or doing something that you wish you were doing.

This fear of missing out is embedded in our human instinct as we have strived for survival thousands of years ago. Our ancestors needed these traits to ensure they have food and shelter. If you were the few who didn’t participate in whatever tribal activities, and migration paths, it would surely spell the end.

In today’s society, we haven’t yet been able to negotiate our minds to think differently. If fact, FOMO extends beyond social media to our everyday decisions. From buying certain products to how we choose our spouse, careers, and lifestyle.

People often buy feature-rich products in hopes thinking they would need all these features to enrich their lives. For example, people would buy a toaster with grill function, bagel inserts, butter warmer, and flashlight — only to find out that they only use it to toast bread. This initial fear of missing out allows products with rich features to sell better out of the gates, but perform poorly the longer these products are in market. In fact, BMW discovered that their 7-series were selling poorly until they simplified the features.

The anxiety of missing out has caused us to make some poor decisions throughout our lives. How many of us have picked a career path because we saw someone else profit largely from it? How many of us have chosen a spouse based on their popularity among peers and family members? Or made silly, and regrettable purchases due to seeing others ‘superficially’ enjoying that same product?

It is harder and harder to separate ‘the need’ vs. ‘the want’, and even harder to separate ‘your want’ vs. ‘other’s wants’ — meaning that you may not even like what you see on social media, but convince yourself that you want something that someone else has — just because you idealize that person.

Be aware of what makes you happy and what fits your character. If you are a homebody, it’s better for you to spend time doing things you like, instead of attending a party just to be seen. If you don’t like to travel, don’t feel pressured by images of sandy beaches — just so that you can post on social media or tell co-workers of your exotic vacation. Will others pay your bills? Ultimately, you need to do what aligns with your personality — at the end of the day, you reap the benefits and pay for any choices you make.

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Neo B. Concio, Author: “The Millionaire Employee: Simple Steps to Freedom