Serena is a 17-year-old from New York City. She occupies her time by reading, laughing, and chasing her dreams. She hopes to be a writer someday.
With today’s technology, it is almost impossible for teenagers to resist checking Facebook, Twitter, or text-messages frequently – to satisfy curiosity is just part of human nature, right? Right. However, when this curiosity becomes obsession, that’s when Fear of Missing Out Syndrome (FOMO) kicks in. As the name implies, FOMO is based around the incessant checking of social media connections. Teenagers feel pressured into hanging out with friends whenever possible, and outlets such as Facebook and Twitter allow teens to see exactly what their friends are doing at what time, where, and with whom. The way most teens see it, spending a Friday or Saturday night at home rather than with friends is verging on criminal: it’s social suicide! At least, that’s how teens perceive it.
What are some of the effects of FOMO? Anxiety, excitement, anger, sadness, joy…FOMO can induce a multitude of emotions. It can result in teens successfully making plans to spend time with friends; maybe a friend made a status about being bored and so last-minute arrangements were made to go see a movie? Alternately, FOMO can result in teens crying alone in their bedrooms, wondering what their friends were doing and why they were not invited. FOMO can be both constructive and destructive, but the latter is much more likely. Such an obsession like FOMO is not healthy; teenagers need to take a step back from their computers and cell phones, and they need to realize that their lives don’t revolve around the lives of their friends! Social media outlets are great, but what someone sees in their Newsfeed or Timeline can be hurtful. Sometimes it’s just better to not know precisely what is going on in other people’s lives – and if you do know, then don’t get too upset. There is no point fretting over not spending every second of the weekend with friends.
Fear of Missing Out Syndrome is definitely real and prevalent among teenagers. The best way to cure FOMO would be to avoid scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and other social media websites. But don’t just avoid checking social media outlets – don’t constantly worry over what your friends are up to. My advice to any teens out there who may have FOMO is this: relax, take a deep breath, and live your own life.
Photo: rennnx3 from Flickr