Social networks are part of the daily life of an increasing number of users, who use not just one platform, but many of them at the same time. The negative consequences of this relatively new form of entertainment have become visible over the years: in 2021, Facebook admitted in internal documents that Instagram is harmful to teenage girls; This year, TikTok filters have set off alarm bells for their realism (beyond known limits, thanks to artificial intelligence) and for contributing to the image cult. Many are rebelling against this trend, which has caused so much harm to users around the world, and are pursuing more natural images.
One of the most characteristic phenomena of this era dominated by networks, which appeared with the proliferation of these platforms, is FOMO (an acronym for the English language Fear of missing out: fear of missing something, in Spanish), which he started talking about as early as 2004. Usually defined as the fear of missing out, is the general fear that others may have rewarding experiences that one does not miss. Enrique Echeburúa, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of the Basque Country, confirms that it can be framed within the abusive use or abuse of social networks and Nomophobia, which defines an intense fear or anxiety, of an irrational nature, unless they remain in contact by mobile phone. “We all worry if we don’t have that possibility because the mobile phone is already a part of our lives, but it’s one thing to get upset and another to have intense anxiety that a person can experience when their relationship with a mobile phone isn’t functional. It’s emotional,” explains Eshborough.
In the case of FOMO, anxiety appears when one is not connected to social networks or mobile phones, and therefore cannot know what other people are doing. “Since social networks operate 24 hours a day, it is impossible to keep up with everything that is happening on them. Everything happens at breakneck speed and, in many cases, leaves no trace. If you haven’t followed what happened in A certain time, you missed it.”
By opening a social network, the user can see how his acquaintances (and strangers) travel to unusual places, to a unique concert or live an experience that is not available to everyone. All of this can cause a user with FOMO to feel like they’re not making the most of their time or even being socially excluded. And if there is something that digs into this issue, it is precisely comparing yourself to others. Self-esteem can be affected, and if a person has low self-esteem, they “have a greater tendency to compensate for these shortcomings with what other people do,” says Ishpura. “While online, where you see the lives other people live, things get worse. The comparative benchmark works right away: ‘Look at the lives they live and I can’t.’ The key is to see that it is a useful tool, but life is not,” he adds.
Summer is a particularly sensitive time for users with this fear. “On the one hand, the same person has more free time, on the other hand, the weather is better, and everyone has more vacations, plans and trips focused on these months. All this means that people who upload photos on Instagram or tell their experiences on TikTok is done in a big way, which is a risk factor; as it is at Christmas, for people who depend on shopping,” explains a professor of clinical psychology.
When a user suffers from FOMO, the way they find it to try not to miss anything is to constantly check what other people are doing. That is, almost compulsorily opening Instagram, for example. According to Echeburúa, being forced to be in constant contact with social networks has a price: “If, in addition to being connected to social networks, you do nothing but think about connection, it means that you don’t think about other things, you don’t care about other aspects of your daily reality, Like work, face-to-face social relationships, family, etc.”
In other words, the present moment and non-virtual reality are no longer enjoyed. This usually entails losing hours of sleep: “Even if you’ve suggested taking an hour off or going to bed at twelve or one, it turns out they give you all three while you’re still in touch,” adds the psychologist. Added to this is the difficulty of maintaining focus throughout the day, not to mention the financial costs that can occur if someone tries to follow a trend or imitate what others are doing.
An unattainable goal
FOMO leads to an impossible goal to achieve because as much as you try to control what happens on networks, you can’t be aware of everything. The symptoms that arise from this dependence are anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and even depression at any moment, “in addition to the impoverishment of non-virtual social relationships because they create a kind of parallel world.” Ishibura compares the practice of being aware of what’s happening on the networks to trying to keep up with all the gossip; Or follow the lives of others in reality programswithout losing details.
As it usually happens with other psychological phenomena, although anyone can suffer from it, in the case of FOMO there are those who have a greater or lesser tendency: adolescents and young adults “because it is the moment in which they spread their social networks “, explains the expert. Also, if you have a manic type of personality, which is the controller, this makes this problem easy to happen. Someone with “few real-life social skills, who often builds a fantasy world for themselves or cares a lot about the world other people make” is also more likely. Spending many hours on devices and social networks also makes it easier. “If the mobile phone is built not only as a tool that facilitates social relationships, communications and messaging, but as an essential component of your life, the risk of you becoming more involved in FOMO is even greater,” he adds.
How can you help someone with FOMO? The first thing should be the identification of time in the networks and the person distinguish that world from real life in person. You must make time for satisfying activities and forms of relaxation that involve good face-to-face social relations and, above all, that the person experiencing them is aware of the dependency they have. “Having an addiction or FOMO or dependence on social networking is socially frowned upon, as the person does not identify with themselves as such,” says Ishibura.
You can follow The Country Technology in Facebook And Twitter Or sign up here to receive The weekly newsletter.