The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

The compulsive urge to stay connected can be destructive at times. Disconnecting for a while, can help establish a better connection.

I was at the Bengaluru Tech Summit yesterday. A grand annual event where great tech minds come together. There were two conference halls at the venue — Chalukya and Hoysala. Named after the two great dynasties that ruled South India several hundred years ago.

I was in Hall 2-Hoysala listening to the eminent TV Mohandas Pai speak on how innovation and entrepreneurship can drive growth for India. At the end of the session when he began taking questions, my heart suddenly started racing.

There was another session taking place simultaneously in Hall 1-Chalukya on the impact on social innovation by disruptive technologies. Damn. I missed that session, I thought.

Enter FOMO (The Fear Of Missing Out)

Allow me to introduce FOMO as the apprehension of missing out on things that are seemingly happening in our absence. Ever wondered why we endlessly keep scrolling our Facebook newsfeed, Instagram and Snapchat stories or WhatsApp statuses.

One, because we are social animals. We like to stay connected. Two, because we discover great content on these platforms. Entertainment, basically. Three, to share our lives. Four, to network, date, find people with similar interests. Five, because if we do not, we feel we’re missing out on something.

When we see posts of our friends going abroad on long vacations to picturesque locations, celebrating success that we only once dreamt of, going to the most happening places in town, eating the finest cuisines, having a time of their lives. We often feel we are missing out on something. The fun maybe. We fear missing out on the fun.

I realised I experience FOMO ever so often. Although a tad different kind of FOMO. It’s not the fun that I ever missed. It’s the knowledge. That sip from the fountain of knowledge. I fear missing out on learning something new. Experiencing something different. Like many others inquisitive souls.

The fear of missing out on intellectual and witty answers on Quora. The fear of missing out on reading some neat articles on Medium. The fear of missing out on the all the fun on twitter.

It’s not always out of FOMO that we do things. But, if for some reason we aren’t able to keep up with the flow, FOMO is all set to take over. If I do not read or write for a few days, the fear of missing out engulfs me. Likewise, for the interesting fun-loving people, staying away from social media is like a curse. Thanks to FOMO again.

In fact, app developers embrace this idea and try to play around with FOMO. That is a great way of retaining users and ensuring that they will return to use their product again.

FOMO drives us to stay connected at all times. It’s one of the accused being prosecuted for the our addiction to social media.

FOMO vs HOMO (Sapiens).

The battle is also set to get further intense in the years to come.