Are we suffering from FOMO?
We are constantly social networking while we are waiting, travelling, walking and even when we are talking. At times I find myself thinking that too many people find social networking more important than their own lives (and the lives of others). They interrupt one call to take another and check their Twitter stream while on a date. Is it because something more interesting or entertaining just might be happening? Often we are so connected with one another through our Twitter streams and through our Facebook and LinkedIn updates, that we can’t just be alone anymore. The Daily Mail.uk and the New York Times recently wrote articles about the fascinating concept of FOMO: fear of missing out. This is so intense, even when we’ve decided to disconnect, we still connect just once more, just to make sure. What about yourself? Do you suffer from FOMO?
Connected to this fear of missing out on something better that’s going on without you, are these “fake” personas we promote on websites like Facebook. I say “fake” because we often present only the best side of our lives on social networking sites. After all, who wants to be “friends” with someone who’s posting depressing status updates and who seems to be doing nothing interesting in their lives? So they are indeed a little fake, because instead of us being completely real, we tend to censor what we post to our social media profile these days. The people on Facebook are often simply their idealized selves — with a bit of misery thrown in from time to time to “keep it real.”
As Sherry Turkle says in her book Alone Together;
“Sometimes you don’t have time for your friends except if they’re online,” is a common complaint. [...]
When is downtime, when is stillness? The text-driven world of rapid response does not make self-reflection impossible, but does little to cultivate it.
Turkle’s descriptions of some of the teens who’ve told her their story is rather scary. Teens who believe they need to be available 24/7 to their friends, because, you know, someone might get dumped or into an argument with their parents. They need instant gratification and solace. Nobody can wait anymore — not because they can’t — but because they don’t need to.
“We aren’t used to seeing the world as it happens,” he said, “We as humans can only process so much data.” Kevin Systrom, the chief executive of Instagram is clear that we might not be ready for the quick changes around us. Is this the reason for allowing ourselves and our children/students to constantly be online? Are we all trying to keep up? Is this why social networking is so attractive? Do we all suffer from FOMO because of this new digital fase?
Turkle thinks along the same lines as Systrom, when she says; “In a way, there’s an immaturity to our relationship with technology,” she said. “It’s still evolving.” She is spot on. We all must agree that our relationship with technology is still very fresh and new. We don’t quite know how to interact well — mindfully, meaningfully — with it. Let alone without it. Where is the balance?
Teens think they “get it” — that technology is a natural extension of their social lives. But I think they’re mistaken — they’re only just beginning to craft their lives around the technology and have just begun to understand how to create a digital footprint.
The fear of missing out is a very real feeling that’s starting to permeate through our social relationships. My question is – what are we teachers doing about it? Are we teaching our students what FOMO is and how to deal with it? I think we should! It is important to teach and learn that we can settle for what we have, rather than cling to the fear that we may be missing out on something better. We need to balance our lives and this needs to be added to an AUP.Image: some rights reserved to Angela Mayfield