FOMO (fear of missing out) is a phenomenon in which a person is anxious to know what others are doing or experiencing. It stems from the natural human desire to socialize, connect with others, and be part of group experiences. However, it can have adverse effects on a person's behavior and decision-making.
The effects of FOMO have generally increased in the past 15 years due to widespread adoption of the Internet, social networks, and mobile devices. These technologies enable us to indulge in FOMO more often, seeking social interactions that are more passive (as an observer only), and with reduced thought and effort.
In business, social media companies may design their applications to tap into people's natural FOMO. For example, a social network may strategically select the items in a user's feed, creating the perception that something exciting or emotionally engaging is always happening on the network. The goal is for users to spend more time participating, which increases the company's profits from marketing and advertising.
Similarly, networked video games may be designed to give the user rewards for taking part in limited-time events, such as holiday celebrations, item giveaways, or daily quests. The user may feel compelled to log in and receive the reward, so they don't miss out on the advantage or special experience that other players have.
Because FOMO is a form of fear, it can have negative effects on a person's emotional health. Psychologists believe that when people compulsively use the Internet because of FOMO, their feelings of boredom and loneliness increase. For this reason, it's important to use social networks and video games in moderation, and never as a substitute for real-life interactions.