'FOMO,' real problem or not?

After her Monday classes, Briana Marchencke, a psychology major at Santa Monica College, was on her way to enjoy some cold beverages on the beach with three of her friends.

Despite having daily obligations, she consistently goes out.

She was very distressed at the thought of missing out when, a few weeks prior, her mother told her she could not go out after she had her car taken away.

“If I know something is going to be fun, I have to go,” said Marchencke.

Although the Oxford dictionary has recently included words like “squee,” “twerk,” and “vom” into its clued-in repository, the term “FOMO” has remained an unofficial term used by students and professionals alike.

The term “FOMO” has been canonized as, “fear of missing out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website,” according to the Oxford dictionary website.

The term has surfaced in the last few years in response to concerns stemming from social anxiety that people have been experiencing, and more particularly at the blistering hands of social networks.

A leading researcher on the subject Andrew Przybylski is a social scientist who focuses on what motivates people to engage with social media.

Przybylski’s recently published study in the journal “Computers in Human Behavior” found that unsatisfied psychological needs, such as wanting to be loved and having an overall life satisfaction, were the most common conditions that induced people to monitor and compare their social media profiles with those of others.

His study also found that levels of “FOMO” are highest in young people, particularly men.

Przybylski said that the chronic concern of feeling as though one is absent during an event, where others may be enjoying themselves, is a distraction and results in a waste of time.

During his freshman and sophomore years at Humboldt State University, Robert Espinoza, a history and political science major, said he was a party animal and that everyone knew him as the life of the party.

Espinoza’s habits changed after his friend Brandon Meyers, 21, was shot and killed at a party in South Central Los Angeles on May 4.

“Life ain’t all about partying,” said Espinoza, who spends his free time reading, working out, and focusing on school.

He said that stress can cause people to want to escape, and added that they will sometimes do anything for excitement, and that may not be in their best interest.

“At the end of the day, life is an adventure,” said Espinoza. “You can make any day an adventure.”

Although some researchers who look at how social media influences society and human behavior use the term “FOMO,” it is not technically a psychological disorder, but appears to be used out of convenience.

Psychology professors at SMC are even unfamiliar with the term.

Lisa Farwell, head of the psychology department at SMC, said she has never heard of the term, and that it is probably just a construction of the popular media.

Would you expect a historian of the art of dance to enlighten you on the elegant and intricate gracefulness that is “twerking?"

That being said, psychologists like John Grohol seem to want to validate the term in the discipline of psychology.

In an article titled, “FOMO Addiction: The Fear of Missing Out,” Grohol wrote about this generation being so engrossed in technology, and claimed that teens text when driving because they find their lives less valuable than social connections.

Grohol’s article made references such as, “old-school crackberry addicts,” while reinforcing his theme, “teens think they get it, but they’re mistaken.”

If you, or anyone you know has been affected by “FOMO,” here are some suggestions that might help.

According to an article in Scientific American, titled “Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime,” new research suggests that exposure to bright screens could hamper your chances at well-timed slumber. Avoid using your laptop or tablet at least within an hour before you plan on going to bed.

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If you find yourself anxious to have a good time, come to terms with the prospect that you may not be having the most exciting evening. Instead do something productive, and perhaps it might contribute to your success in life.

Nathan BerookhimComment