In modern times, the rise of social media has lent a hand in starting a new type of depression, called F.O.M.O, or the Fear of Missing Out. The fear of missing out is quite self-explanatory. It is defined by Google as, “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” F.O.M.O may seem like something that happens to very few people or on rare occasion, but shockingly it happens to millions of people multiple times per day. For example, a teenager gets home from school and they are watching a bit of TV. The F.O.M.O unconsciously occurs in their mind and so they are prompted to check social media. Once on social media they see pictures and posts of all these people doing fun things which they are not a part of. This causes the teen to think negative thoughts about their own life and how they are missing out on all these things. Unfortunately, there will always be someone or something out there more interesting, and so F.O.M.O can easily happen over and over again.
Recently a study was conducted by experts from the Australian Psychological Society to measure the levels of stress, anxiety, and/or depression that teenagers experienced as a result of F.O.M.O created by social media. The study included questions about F.O.M.O asked to teens 13 to 17 years old. Here are some of the results:
Of all the teenagers involved in the survey 24% percent said that they connect to social media while eating breakfast and lunch every day. More than 40% used social media a minimum of 10 minutes before bed every night, and an astounding 50% of the teens in the report said they felt the fear of missing out on their friends’ inside jokes and events, as well as the chance to show everyone that they’re having fun on social media. (Rahamathulla)
From this data we know without question that so many teenagers are affected negatively in these ways. Especially from the last line, “as well as the chance to show everyone that they’re having fun on social media” shows that the teens also felt left out because they were unable to share any experiences that they were having. Why would this be? Well if likes and follower’s equal popularity, then the way to achieve it would be to post things that causes others to have F.O.M.O. So social media platforms are all essentially one big vicious cycle, whereby all users, to a degree, have F.OM.O and so are forced by themselves check their social media. Then once they do, they are somewhat forced into feeling anxiety or depression for seeing that they are being left out and so are urged to post exiting things of their own. This then is seen by other users who have gone through the same process and now are feeling left out by that person. In the end, people are hurting both each-other and themselves through F.O.M.O, and it is all the fault of our social media culture.
Google. “FO-MO.” Google.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016. <https://www.google.com/search?q=fomo&oq=foMO&aqs=chrome.0.0l6.947j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>.
Rahamathulla, Mubarak, Dr. “#FOMO Leads to Depression and Anxiety in Teen Social Media Users.” techtimes.com. N.p., 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 24 May 2016.