Did you hear about the latest phobia?

You would think that a list of the top 100 phobias, which includes fear of bridges, feet, zombies, buttons, ducks and long words, would have covered the entire spectrum.  But this past weekend I read about a new one not on the list, one fitting for the age of social media. It goes by the acronym FOMO and stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

The problem of FOMO was reported on a psychology website as early as 2015, and made it into “Time” magazine a full year ago. Talk about missing out. I didn’t hear about it until this week. Ironically, just a few days ago a friend sent an email saying that a painting by Jean-Michele Basquiat set an auction sale record for a work by a U.S. artist, and she’d never heard of him. A clear case of missing out. But before learning about FOMO, who knew?

This case would be a good addition to the May 21 “Seattle Times” column by Nicole Brodeur, “Cultural FOMO: the never-ending struggle to keep up,” who identified the latest Netflix TV series, hottest new books on the bestseller list, news coming out of Washington DC, and brilliant moments from late night talk shows as a few of the events that are impossible for her to keep up with.

The big question here should be, “Do we need to keep up?” and the answer often lies in the minds of those hooked on social media. From World of Psychology website, “On social media, everyone’s flaunting what they’re doing, with whom they’re doing it and posts are loaded with exclamation marks!!! With such pressure, it’s no surprise that teens are checking their phone every two minutes to make sure they’re not missing out on anything “’important.’”

But this article doesn’t give adults a free pass.  On Facebook we see our friends vacationing all over the globe, sharing photos of foods from the hottest new restaurants, and attending concerts with the latest and greatest stars. I don’t think the urgency to know what our Facebook friends are doing every minute is there with adults, but if we’ve never been to the places where the fabulous photos comes from, doesn’t it feel –even if just for a moment — like we’re missing out?

If you’re working, your job may require you to keep up with the latest research, news coverage, laws passed, and much more.  The beauty of retirement is that we don’t have to keep up if we don’t want to, though some volunteer jobs challenge that assumption. But where I find retirees susceptible to FOMO comes from reading their friends’ Facebook travel posts.

For anyone on Facebook who feels travel envy, grandchild envy, outdoor adventure envy, or pet envy, advice from the website above may help.
*”Don’t miss out on what’s in front of you.”
*Let go of comparisons. They rarely help.
*Cut back on the time you spend on social media. In most cases, less is better than more.

And don’t worry about being left out.  After a certain age it’s a guarantee you will be. The good news is that it won’t bother you!!! Or will it?



About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in changes after retirement, personal reflections, stress. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Did you hear about the latest phobia?

  1. shimadas@frontier.com says:

    Thanks, Ann. FOMO – I think I’m past caring about FOMO. My focus is on more immediate concerns like “where are my reading glasses?” and “when am I going to get the car checked” and “Oh, no, I almost forgot to renew my auto license”. Also, I ca relax now that I have transplanted all of my tomato and eggplants . But there are the cucumbers and peppers and salvia and … to put in, too. Please don’t post. Thanks, though. I always enjoy your wisdoms!

  2. Sherry Ladd says:

    Nicely done, Ann.

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