Do you suffer from Fomo?

2012-07-07 16:50

Clenched jaws, compulsive sweating and excessive SMSing: if you replied “yes” to all of the above, you are probably in the grip of a dreadful new epidemic – Fomo (fear of missing out).

Fomo is an emotional and physical reaction to worrying what others think of us and constantly striving to feel included.

Medicine company Pharma Dynamics has just surveyed more than 3 000 people across South Africa, all aged between 15 and 50 years.

Startlingly, more than 62% of the respondents said they lived in constant fear of missing out. Being worried about missing out can manifest physically, too.

The study revealed that 41% of the participants experienced jaw clenching, 30% the inability to remove their cellphones from their hands, 24% excessive SMSing, 17% “high-pitched questioning”, 18% compulsive sweating, 11% tweeting when in the loo and 6% showing up at places uninvited.

Fomo can even make you sick.

Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Mariska Fouche said: “Our modern-day obsession with not missing out actually weakens our immune system, raising the odds of catching a cold or flu. We push ourselves to the limit, always wanting to be everywhere and do everything, even when we are ill, which is why it often takes us longer to recover.”

The survey showed that even a serious cold or flu would not prevent 64% of respondents from going to work, and 13% still go to a party or get-together despite feeling ill.

And Fomo only gets worse as people try to keep up with the world around them.

Fouche said: “More than a third of survey participants said they often interrupt one call to take another, even when they don’t know who is on the other line, or check their Twitter stream or Facebook page while on a date because something more interesting might just be happening.”

A recent US study found that 43% of respondents aged between 13 and 34 blamed social media for increased Fomo.

But the local survey found that social websites like Facebook and Twitter could actually help people deal with Fomo.

Facebook was the most popular channel for 38% of respondents to alleviate the fear of missing out, followed by 26% who chose to call a friend or family member, while 20% found relief from checking and sending emails.

Fomo (fear of missing out)

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