As always, late to the picnic, but I recently encountered the acronymn FOMO. It’s not a new type of washing powder, but short for Fear Of Missing Out.  It’s defined in Wikipedia as :

Fear of missing out or FoMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social angst is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.

Some commentators and researchers have laid the blame for FOMO firmly at the door of social media – – and I think that they’re probably spot on the money. I know from my own experiences that it’s easy to portray a totally different lifestyle on Facebook than actually happens.  One gets to be able to interpret the status posts you sometimes see : “Another Saturday evening partying hard.” translates to “After watching Strictly I went out but couldn’t get in any clubs. I ended up drowning my sorrows sitting on the kerb outside the cheap off-license”

I’ve been lucky – I think I’ve a bunch of friends on facebook who put over quite an accurate view of the world they inhabit.  Maybe they’re all as ‘stay at home’ as I am, or maybe they’re mature enough to not have to post every aspect of their lives online to try and create envy.

It started me thinking about whether a similar phenomenon existed when I was a teenager and a young adult, and I THINK that it probably did.

It was the Monday morning debrief, when you got together with friends and colleagues and actually talked about the weekend just gone.

It was the stories you told when you met friends about what you did the last time you were out without them – often exaggerated, frequently for comic effect, occasionally to big yourself up.  The concept of ‘what happens in Vegas (or more likely Skegness) stays in Vegas was not stated; discretion (at least amongst my friends) seemed to be expected.

I think it’s safe to say that FOMO doesn’t bother me anymore; I think it did once upon a time, and even now there are the occasional times when I see a social media post and think ‘You could have invited me’ or ‘I wish I’d been there’. I have seen posts where people are doing something of a ‘party hop’ to ensure that they get to multiple events that are taking place at the same time – definitely the ultimate in FOMO generated behaviour!

No, I think as an older man I’ve noticed a new source of angst in recent years, but one that I think I can keep under control.  And it’s probably as old as the hills, in one form or another – FOHMO.

Fear Of Having Missed Out – that feeling you get when you see younger folks that you know taking part in social activities that are now past you due to your age, or that you’d have loved to have done when you were that age but that didn’t actually exist!  I think it’s related to the things that lead to mid-life crises, which are never good to have.

FOMO and FOHMO are both polite ways of saying ‘envy’ – the difference is that FOHMO is you being envious of things and situations you can never have; FOMO has within it the possibility that by keeping in touch, keeping watching the statuses, hopping from event to event you can become one of the ‘in crowd’, the social elite of your world.  FOHMO has within it the past tense; it’s gone, that’s it. You can break yourself against it but the bottom line is that if you suffer from FOHMO you’re on a hiding to nothing as you’re basically railing against lost time – and hence your age.

My name is Joe; I’m an occasional sufferer from FOHMO; I hope to soon grow out of it!

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