“Do you all have a boat?” he asked indignantly in September 2018 the actor Brais Efe in a video that he uploaded to his social networks. In it, the interpreter complained that, suddenly, everyone seemed to have a yacht, or to spend the holidays aboard one, while he contemplated that through Instagram from his apartment in Madrid.
The video, which went viral and accumulates more than 24,000 likes on Twitter, revives every year around this time, and is one of the purest and funniest representations of FOMO or Fear of Missing Out (fear of missing something) that have been created in Spanish.
For those who are still a bit clueless, FOMO is, according to Jose Ramon Ubieto, clinical psychologist and professor at the Open University of Catalonia, «that fear of missing out on something, of making the wrong choice. You are having a coffee on a terrace with your friends, you unlock your mobile, you see that someone is traveling and you think “what am I doing having a coffee? I would have to travel.” The funny thing is that later, when you are traveling, you see how your friends are drinking coffee and you would rather be with them».
Being so related to the activities we do in our leisure time, we could venture to affirm that FOMO reaches its maximum intensity in summer, during the holidays, the moment of doing nothing par excellence. This feeling has its degrees: for some it can be something very slight, but it can also affect the mental health of others much more than we might think, causing them anxiety, depression… Or simply not letting them enjoy their own moments of rest that Even if they don’t take place in remote paradises, they can be even more satisfying than the most photogenic beach in the world.
THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM
The expression, which in a few years has passed from the language of the internet to the most common vocabulary, has its origin at the beginning of the last decade. According to journalist Ben Schreckinger in Boston magazine, the acronym FOMO first appeared in an academic article written in 2000 by marketing expert Dan Herman. However, for a few years he did not leave the academic field.
According to Schreckinger, the expression became popular around 2004 when it appeared in an op-ed in the Harbus newspaper, edited by Harvard Business School students; and it was not by chance. That generation of privileged boys and girls, after the collapse of the dotcoms and the attacks of September 11, had realized that life could turn around at any moment.
Thus, perhaps somewhat unconsciously, they developed a desperately hedonistic attitude. Nobody knew what might happen tomorrow, so the campus, located in the town of Cambridge, Massachusetts, spread a sense of anxiety to know what was cooking and where the funniest party was.
Soon, SMS, which was in full expansion at the time, was not enough to keep up with everything, so the need arose for new tools that would allow you to know at all times what your friends were doing at all times and where. It is no coincidence that, on that same campus, a student named Mark Zuckerberg founded a website in February 2004 that he called thefacebook.
A VERY HUMAN PHENOMENON OVER-STIMULATED BY SOCIAL NETWORKS
“Obviously, FOMO is not a strictly modern phenomenon, it has always existed,” explains Laura Casas, a journalist specializing in online communication and social networks. “Usually in life we have several options and we must choose one. Doubts as to whether we are making the right choice or whether we should have done something else have always existed, both now and in 5th century BC Athens. C. However, with the use of social networks, the effects of these doubts on mental health have worsened, since thanks to them we have the possibility of seeing what we could have done if we had chosen another plan».
“Digital eliminates space-time barriers,” says Ubieto, “so the opportunities to compare your plans with those of others, with other lives, real or apparent, with other ways of being and generating this kind of micro-envy, have increased. multiplied exponentially.
WHY DOES IT AFFECT US SO MUCH?
According to Casas, many will find themselves this summer constantly looking at updates on their social networks, even if they are on vacation. They will spend a considerable amount of time each day thinking about what they are going to share on their channels and how to record or photograph it, or they will feel bad if they see their friends enjoying some event that they have not been able to attend or, worse yet, have not been invited. . “That will reveal that they are suffering from FOMO”, concludes the expert.
“This phenomenon is produced by the importance of social networks in our lives,” says Ubieto. «These trap us in a spiral of satisfaction by looking and being seen and have created the need for us to have a certain personality in the digital world. The posture and the exacerbation of narcissism, added to the illusion that the life that is exposed there is the same as real life, do the rest.
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THE FOMO THIS SUMMER?
According to Casas, the best way to forget about FOMO during these holidays is to disconnect from social networks, “listen to the radio, pick up a book, meditate, practice a sport.” Although sometimes that is not easy. “There are applications that we can download and that notify us if we have exceeded the time limit that we have established to spend on social networks, and they can even block our access,” she explains.
“Of course, an easier option is to uninstall them from our device during rest days. In this way, we can continue taking photos or videos whenever we want, but we will not publish them until we reinstall the app.
For his part, Ubieto recommends balancing face-to-face and virtual relationships, “generating more diverse relationships in which we find more satisfaction in what we are doing and less in what we are not doing. Reconnect with the type of links that networks cannot give us, ”says the psychologist.
To focus on the now and the present, Casas points out, it would be good to think, for example, about what it has cost us to go on vacation and that we have to take advantage of living the moment to the fullest. We also have to accept that we cannot be in everything, so it is necessary to be honest with ourselves and find out what is really important to us. “Set priorities accordingly and focus on what truly makes you happy,” he concludes.