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Is social media giving users crippling FOMO?

A woman uses her smart phone to acces Facebook.
A woman uses her smart phone to acces Facebook.

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FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” has become a popular phrase in recent years – the term is used to describe the fear that you may be missing out on cooler plans, and social media is a major perpetrator. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow users to publicize their every action. Instant status updates and pictures can be posted from smartphones and transmitted to large audiences quickly and effortlessly. The result? Your plans to stay home watching a movie may pale in comparison to what your friends are doing, and you’re more likely than ever to know that.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT and author of “Alone, Together,” a book about the effects of social media, says that increasing intimacy with technology means that social networking has more influence on users’ emotions and decisions. FOMO is becoming more pervasive, even inspiring counter-points like JOMO (turning off a cell phone to indulge in the Joy Of Missing Out).

Is social media causing more anxiety than happiness? Does interacting with sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give you FOMO? Do you have trouble staying present and in the moment? How should users handle their fear of missing out – is logging off the only solution?


Caterina Fake, Founder and CEO of, where you can find and leave notes around the world; also co-founded Flickr and Hunch

Sophia Dembling, author of “The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” (Perigee Books) and writer of the Introvert's Corner column at “Psychology Today”