‘Fear Of Missing Out’ leaving many digitally anchored

Mobile phones are a wonderful invention for capturing and sharing the events of everyday life, but they can also ruin social lives. Especially for young adults today, it can be difficult to keep up with hundreds of social media friends.

The problem is FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. According to Time magazine, FOMO affects more than three quarters of young adults. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all social media outlets that can generate FOMO.

“I do feel that sometimes I am missing out because it’s not very fun when all of your friends are out having a good time without you because you feel that you did something wrong,” freshman Olivia Combs said.

Access to digital devices, especially smartphones, creates the setting for FOMO addiction to occur. “When people have constant access to social media on their phones, there is a temptation to check on it all the time, just to make sure you aren’t missing out on anything,” said Christopher Martin, professor of communication studies at the University of Northern Iowa. “Unfortunately, when we do that, we end up not living in the moment, not focusing on the people we are with and the things we are doing.” he said.

In this generation, millennials are often affected by FOMO, but this does not mean FOMO hasn’t been around for a long time.

“Before digital media, people would just check their phone answering machine or mailbox once a day,” Martin said. “People could still feel that they are missing out when they got a postcard from someone saying ‘they are having a great time at the beach,’ but with social media, we can get that same feeling of FOMO many times a day,” he said.

FOMO is all around, and for those feeling its grip,  it is sometimes better to turn off devices and experience something without regrets and fear of missing out. “I’ve taken many breaks from social media, and I honestly feel like I’m happier without it,” Combs said.

Freshman Sabrina Leistikow came to the same conclusion. “I used to post a lot on Instagram about anything and everything. I’ve now learned to live in the moment and just … be.”

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