Mobile phones now enable people to remain in contact with their social and professional network continuously. This may result in compulsive checking for status updates and messages, for fear of missing an opportunity.[1]

Fear of missing out or FoMO is "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent".[2] This social angst[3] is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing".[2] FoMO is also defined as a fear of regret,[4] which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events.[5] In other words, FoMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as "you can imagine how things could be different".[4]

Self-determination theory (SDT) asserts that the feeling of relatedness or connectedness with others is a legitimate psychological need that influences people's psychological health.[6] In this theoretical framework, FoMO can be understood as a self-regulatory state arising from situational or long-term perception that one's needs are not being met.[2]

With the development of technology, people's social and communicative experiences have been expanded from face-to-face to online. On one hand, modern technologies (e.g., mobile phones, smartphones) and social networking services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) provide a unique opportunity for people to be socially engaged with a reduced "cost of admission".[2] On the other hand, mediated communication perpetuates an increased reliance on the Internet. A psychological dependence to being online could result in anxiety when one feels disconnected, thereby leading to a fear of missing out[7] or even pathological Internet use.[8] As a consequence, FoMO is perceived to have negative influences on people's psychological health and well-being, because it could contribute to people's negative mood and depressed feelings.[4] FoMO has also been associated with experiencing more negative alcohol-related consequences and consuming a higher quantity of alcoholic drinks.[9]



Fear of missing out (FoMO) refers to the apprehension that one is not in-the-know or one is out of touch with some social events, experiences, and interactions.[2] People who grapple with FoMO might not know exactly what they are missing but can still hold a fear that others are having a much better time or having a much more rewarding experience on the spur of the moment.[3] FoMO could result from a variety of social activities in which one is absent, such as a conversation, a TV show, a wedding, a party, or a delicious restaurant in town.

FoMO could simply exist as a pervasive mental state, but it can also lead to different physical reactions (e.g., sweating) and real-world behaviors.[3] According to a survey conducted in the U.S. and U.K., the majority of adult Millennials (current age between 18 and 34) stated that they want to say yes to everything due to the fear of missing out; over half of the respondents said that they barely invest sufficient energy or time in delving into topics or new interests.[3] Moreover, FoMO serves as a motive for an increasing use of social media,[10] which could distract people from learning in the classroom[2] and operating motor vehicles.[2][11] Furthermore, unhealthy digital habits, such as constantly checking on emails and social media updates, could be developed and thus lead to insufficient engagement in the present social interactions.[3]

Besides its impact on real-world social activities, FoMO could also influence the formation of long-term goals and people's self-perceptions.[3] Around half of the respondents stated that they are overwhelmed by the amount of information which allows them to stay up to date and it is almost impossible to not miss out on something.[3] Through the process of relative deprivation, FoMO is also found conducive to people's dissatisfaction of their experiences and a feeling of having less.[3] Moreover, FoMO also plays a negative role in people's overall psychological well-being.[2][4][12] FoMO is believed to trigger negative social and emotional experiences, such as boredom and loneliness, through social media usage.[13] Consistent with earlier research, an empirical research on FoMO in 2013 found that FoMO has a negative effect on people's overall mood and life satisfaction.[2]

In terms of the cognitive effects, FoMO could further instill a belief that an interruption is more like a "connection".[14] FoMO may drive someone to constantly look for a better or more interesting connection with others, abandoning current connections to do so, without realizing that what they move to is not necessarily better, just different.[14] Moreover, the importance attributed to the potential possibility of social interaction or continuously staying abreast of current events is so intense that personal safety may be ignored.[14] For instance, it is common to find people texting while driving.[14]

Causes and correlationsEdit

From the theoretical lens of psychological needs, FoMO could be attributed to situational or long-term deficits in psychological needs satisfaction,[2] the prevalence of which contributes to an increasing transparency of other people's social life and an escalating amount of real-time information.[15] According to uses and gratifications theory, people actively choose and use social media to fulfill their specific needs,[16] such as their needs for information or staying connected with others through socializing.[17] For people who grapple with FoMO, social media involvement could be attractive because it serves as a convenient tool to be socially connected with a relatively low cost.[3][18]

Self-determination theory contends that an individual's psychological satisfaction in their competence, autonomy, and relatedness consist three basic psychological needs for human beings.[6] People with lower levels of basic psychological satisfaction reported a higher level of FoMO; in other words, a significant correlation was identified between basic psychological satisfaction and FoMO.[2] In addition, nearly four in ten young people reported that they experience FoMO sometimes or often.[3] FoMO was found to be negatively correlated with age and men are more likely than women to report FoMO.[2]

In popular cultureEdit

"The Curse of the Blitz"Edit

“The Curse of the Blitz” is an episode of the American TV series How I Met Your Mother.[3] Within the context of the episode, the curse often causes a character to miss out on fun and amazing events, in particular by prompting the character to leave just before the event occurs. The curse could foster a strong anxiety of FoMO, which makes the character continually try to make sure that he or she does not miss out on anything.[3] In one scene, the curse causes Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) to miss out on amazing events including a coin toss that defies the laws of physics.[3]


FoMO is considered to be a convenient way to absorb knowledge without space-time limitation, so as to enrich people’s spiritual life. Services like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are technological tools for seeking social connection and provide the promise of greater levels of social involvement.[18]However, unhealthy digital habits can discourage sufficient engagement in the present social interactions. When people use technology to define themselves by sharing their thoughts and feelings even as they're having them, they indirectly deliver a message so-called "I share therefore I am", which may lead people to distortedly understand the essence of social connection or interaction. If more and more people attempt to seek novelty to share with others and catch their attention, perhaps they would progressively feel more isolated and empty. [19]


It is not uncommon for advertising and marketing campaigns to employ the appeal of FoMO in an era of new technology. Brands and companies often inform their customers of "can't miss out" experiences or deals; for instance, the AT&T "Don't be left behind" campaign, Duracell Powermat "Stay in charge" campaign, Heineken "Sunrise" campaign, etc.[3] The Heineken "Sunrise" campaign, in particular, aimed to encourage responsible drinking by portraying excessive drinking as a way to miss out on the best parts of a party, eschewing the more common warning that such drinking is a risk to personal health.[3] However, there is also a tendency for brands to counter FoMO in their advertisements and campaigns, such as Nescafé's "Wake up to life" campaign.[3] One very common FoMO marketing technique is to include a countdown timer as a way to explicitly show customers how long they have until they miss out on the sale.[citation needed]

FoMO is also perceived to foster higher TV ratings. Real-time updates about one's status and major social events allowed a more engaged media consumption experience and faster information dissemination.[3] Real-time tweets about the Super Bowl are considered to be correlated with higher TV ratings because of the appeal of FoMO and the prevalence of social media usage.[3]


Author Patrick McGinnis is credited with coining the term "FoMO", or Fear of Missing Out, in 2004 after publishing an op-ed in The Harbus, the magazine of Harvard Business School.[20][21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Anderson, H. (April 16, 2011), "Never heard of Fomo? You're so missing out", The Observer 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Przybylski, A. K.; Murayama, K.; DeHaan, C. R. & Gladwell, V. (2013), "Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out.", Computers in Human Behavior, 29 (4): 1841–1848, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) (PDF), J. Walter Thompson, 2012, archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2015 
  4. ^ a b c d Wortham, J. (April 10, 2011). "Feel like a wall flower? Maybe it's your Facebook wall". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Shea, Michael (27 July 2015). "Living with FoMO". The Skinny. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Deci, E.L. & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Plenum Press. ISBN 9780306420221. 
  7. ^ Jonathan K. J. (1998). "Internet Addiction on Campus: The Vulnerability of College Students". CyberPsychology & Behavior. 1 (1). Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. 
  8. ^ Song, I.; Larose, R.; Eastin, M. S. & Lin, C. A. (2004), "Internet gratifications and Internet addiction: On the uses and abuses of new media", CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7 (4): 384–394, doi:10.1089/cpb.2004.7.384 
  9. ^ Riordan, B. C.; Flett, J. A. M.; Hunter, J. A.; Scarf, D. & Conner, T. S. (2015), "Fear of missing out (FoMO): the relationship between FoMO, alcohol use, and alcohol-related consequences in college students.", Annals of Neuroscience and Psychology, 2: 1–7 
  10. ^ Kandell, J. J. (1998), "Internet addiction on campus: The vulnerability of college students", CyberPsychology & Behavior, 1 (1): 11–17, doi:10.1089/cpb.1998.1.11 
  11. ^ Turkle, S. (2012). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465031467. 
  12. ^ Morford, M. (August 4, 2010). "Oh my god you are so missing out". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  13. ^ Burke, M.; Marlow, C. & Lento, T. (2010), "Social network activity and social well-being.", Postgraduate Medical Journal, 85: 455–459, doi:10.1145/1753326.1753613 
  14. ^ a b c d Grohol, J. (February 28, 2015). "FOMO addiction: the fear of missing out.". World of Psychology. Psych Central. 
  15. ^ Amichai-Hamburger, Y. & Ben-Artzi, E. (2003), "Loneliness and internet use", Computers in Human Behavior, 19 (1): 71–80, doi:10.1016/S0747-5632(02)00014-6 
  16. ^ Katz, E.; Gurevitch, M. & Haas, H. (1973), "On the use of the mass media for important things", American Sociological Review, 38 (2): 164–181, doi:10.2307/2094393 
  17. ^ Park, N.; Kee, K. F. & Valenzuela, S. (2009), "Being immersed in social networking environment:Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes", CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12 (6): 729–733, doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0003 
  18. ^ a b Ellison, N.B.; Steinfield, C. & Lampe, C. (2007), "The benefits of Facebook friends: Social capital and college students' use of online social network sites", Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12 (4): 1143–1168, doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x 
  19. ^ Turkle, Sherry (Feb 2012). Connected, but alone? (Speech). TED2012. 
  20. ^ "Social Theory at HBS: McGinnis' Two FOs". The Harbus. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  21. ^ "The Home of FOMO". Boston. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.