Home » Scientists link ‘fear of missing out’ with illicit behaviour

Scientists link ‘fear of missing out’ with illicit behaviour

by Press room

FOMO – fear of missing out – is the acute and often unjustified belief that everyone is having more fun than you, and that you’re somehow being left out of all the fun. 

But this affliction, thought to be caused by social media where you see endless status updates and photos of your friends showing off their (supposedly) happier, more exciting lives, is just the tip of the worry iceberg.

In fact, FOMO has become such a problem that recent studies suggest it can manifest as a genuine form of social anxiety and even lead to an increased risk of alcohol abuse and depression among certain age groups. 

But now commentators are suggesting that FOMO is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media-related acronyms. 

There is now a whole range of afflictions caused by all the fun your friends are having on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – and the chances are, you’re suffering from at least one of them. 

FOMOMO: Fear of the mystery of missing out 

A more extreme case of FOMO that occurs only when your phone is broken or out of battery. 

According to the Guardian , it means you’re afraid of missing out, but not because of what you see on social media – it’s what you don’t see that’s causing you real angst.

Deprived of seeing your friends’ photos and check-ins, you automatically assume that everyone on your Instagram feed is having a riotous time without you. 

MOMO: Mystery of missing out 

This is the paranoia that arises when your friends don’t post anything on social media at all.

Instead, you’re left with no option but to scroll obsessively through your Facebook and Twitter timelines searching for clues. 

Imagining them having the time of their lives at wild parties (without you), you naturally assume the worst. 

The assumption here is that your friends are too busy having fun to even think about documenting the experience. 

FOJI: Fear of joining in 

The polar opposite to MOMO; if you suffer from FOJI, you’re far less likely to keep your friends updated on Facebook and Instagram because you’re not quite sure what to post and you’re worried that nobody will like or comment on your photos. 

In fact, you might opt out of social media altogether for fear that nobody will want to connect, follow or be ‘friends’ with you. 

BROMO: Your ‘bros’ protect you from missing out 

An act of solidarity from your friends. If they’ve been out the night before, they’ll deliberately refrain from posting photos of the fun they were having, for fear of making you feel left out. 

SLOMO: Slow to missing out

In this case, your anxiety is probably justified. Everybody is having a better time than you, but you’re asleep so you don’t know it until the next morning when you log into Facebook and find your timeline littered with photos of the night before

JOMO: Joy of missing out 

Taking pleasure in ‘missing out’ by not feeling like you have to be everywhere at once. Instead, you’re quite content with staying in bed with a cup of tea and a book. 

NtB: Need to belong 

Meanwhile, NtB is the biological human need to feel like part of a group and to form relationships with other people.

‘NtB is extremely pervasive across human beings and has a significant impact on individuals’ cognitions, emotions as well as behaviours,’ says a 2021 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. 

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