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Fear of Missing Out Phobia: The Addiction and How to Overcome the Fear

Updated on May 30, 2014

What is the Fear of Missing Out Phobia?

The fear of missing out phobia is both a phobia and an addition. You may suffer from it and not even realize it. So, what exactly is the "fear of missing out" and how can you overcome the fear?

FOMO: A Concise Definition

Often shortened to FOMO, the fear of missing out is the fear of missing out on something more interesting or more exciting than what you are doing right now. There is a fear that something might be happening while you are busy in your real life. Unfortunately, FOMO is a technology-related trend that may wreak havoc on your personal and professional life.

The Fear of Missing Out: Are You Already Being Affected?

Do you fear missing out when you're not on the social media networks?
Do you fear missing out when you're not on the social media networks? | Source

Warning Signs of FOMO or Technology Addiction

The fear of missing out is also about the missing potential opportunities to make new online connections. The key word is "potential"; you will not know if you can create a new connection until you check your latest email message or the electronic feed of your Twitter account.

You do not know if you have missed anything until you check your cell phone, computer, or other electronic device. Five minutes after you do check, you will feel the need to check the device again to see if anything has been updated. This is a warning sign of FOMO or technology addiction.

A few ways that FOMO appears in daily lives include:

  • Texting while sitting in your car at the red light of an intersection
  • Checking your Twitter stream while out for coffee with a friend
  • Answering your cell phone when you are eating dinner with family members

The fear of missing out phobia creates problems for those who suffer from the addiction and phobia. The way the technology addiction interferes with your life is complex, as explained below.

FOMO and Social Media Networks

FOMO: Is Google+ interfering with your date?
FOMO: Is Google+ interfering with your date? | Source

Fear of Missing Out: The Warning Signs

Fear of missing out creates problems in your personal and professional life in several ways. For example, you may lose real-world connections; these are people who you have relationships with offline.

1. You Lose Real-Life Connections

Your real-life connections may suffer in response to your perceived need to continuously check your smartphone or other electronic devices. Let's say that you are out on a date. You check your Google+ profile on your smartphone while you are out, looking to see if anyone has commented on your latest post.

If your date does not have FOMO, they may consider your interest in your phone rather than in his or her conversation to be a rude gesture. As a consequence, he or she doesn't return your next phone call. You just lost a potential real-life connection - and you lost that relationship to the addiction called the fear of missing out.

Online Relationships and FOMO

Is that online connection who he or she claims to be? There are issues with virtual relationships.
Is that online connection who he or she claims to be? There are issues with virtual relationships. | Source

More Warning Signs of the Addiction

2. Your Connections are Limited to Online Ones

As explained above, you sacrifice your daily real life connections for online ones, on social media networks and other virtual platforms. Your online friends is likely largely composed of people you have never (and will never meet) in person. The relationships are electronically based on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and perhaps a slew of other social media platforms. A significant amount of time is dedicated to checking in on the networks due to anxieties about missing out on what is happening in the electronic circles. As a result, your relationships with family and friends suffer due to lack of attention.

As well, consider that a lot of people on social networks do not post their true, personal information. They also censor what they do post about themselves given privacy concerns on the Internet.

Even if they are honest about their marital statuses, they are not likely to provide you with their flaws. You may not learn that they have been divorced or belong to certain groups that go against your moral values. Although these characteristics may not change your friendships with these people, the fact remains that you have not learned their entire identities. The connections that you seek to acquire are often not as in-depth as people you would meet face-to-face.

Do You Suffer From FOMO?

Do You Suffer From FOMO?

See results

The Emotional Toll of FOMO

She is exhausted from smartphone usage.
She is exhausted from smartphone usage. | Source

Two More Warning Signs of the Fear of Missing Out

3. Feeling Overwhelmed

FOMO may also lead to feeling overwhelmed. As you add more followers to Twitter and join more Facebook groups, you make more connections. The downside is that you receive more responses to your online posts. Your groups of connections increase and so does your time devoted to the networks.

Your phobia skyrockets as you desire to keep up with the latest activities of those people and not feel left out of the mix. The addiction is eating up your time that could instead be devoted to time with family and friends, as well as getting household tasks done.

Workplace Issues

Also, your work life aside from the social media world suffers. For example, your client is kept waiting for an appointment with you in the lobby as you want to ensure you are up to date on your responses to any Twitter messages you received in the last ten minutes.

Your time is not fully devoted to your work, which means minutes each day of inactivity add up to lost working hours over the week. If you operate your own business, you are potentially missing out on a sizable amount of income.

How To Eliminate The Fear Of Missing Out

There are solutions or ways to eliminate your fear of missing out. As with any form of addiction, start by admitting the issue at hand. Be conscious that you do indeed have the fear and phobia; look at yourself objectively to see if you do suffer. If FOMO is present in your life, do not turn a blind eye.

Take Breaks

Try signing out of social media applications for a set amount of time. Doing so will allow you more time to focus on work, household tasks, and activities with family and friends. Write down the specific times to log out if you need to, as a way to force yourself to stay on track.

Let other people in your social media networks know when you are busy to help lower your feelings of being overwhelmed. There will be fewer expectations on you to be on the applications as often. Your followers will likely understand as all lives get busy and they will appreciate your honesty. You let them know that your absences are not personal and are instead about prioritization.

Allow Scheduled Breaks: Break from Technology Addiction

Take time away from social media.
Take time away from social media. | Source

Another Tip: Maintain Perspective on the Addiction

Step back and try to gain perspective on the addiction. Monitor your progress. Are you continuing to take those breaks from being online?

Recognize that your network will still be accessible by mobile device or by computer when you return an hour later. The world will not end in the meantime. Your buddy will understand if it takes you an extra hour or another day to read his or her newest article. Be honest with yourself if you have fear of missing out and that way you can work to reduce the addiction.

FOMO Addiction

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a rising trend in communities around the world that are becoming increasingly dependent on technology as a way to communicate with others. Technology is associated with feeling connected to other people, even if you have never met them face to face.

Solutions exist to help alleviate the addiction, including taking breaks from online activities and re-prioritizing daily tasks. Computer addictions are likely to continue to spread as new types of electronics and new social media applications are created on a regular basis. Curb FOMO through personal techniques to feel less overwhelmed and create a happier sense of self.

Curb The Addiction

Create a happier you. Be free of the phobia.
Create a happier you. Be free of the phobia. | Source

Comments about the Fear of Missing Out

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    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, it's eye-opening, isn't it, Astra?! I think the awareness helps keep us in check when we use our gadgets. Thanks for the great comment!

    • Astra Nomik profile image

      Cathy Nerujen 

      7 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

      This is awesome. I never heard of this until I read this hub just now, Christy. This is a great read. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great hub and so informative about this topic. You have summed up with important points.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Suzette, yes I find more and more people exhibiting the behaviour you describe. So much so that I researched this topic and then wrote a few hubs (connected issue). Glad to help show you the serious state of this. Thanks for the comment.

      @Keith, Quite right! I think FOMO is happening for all ages too, not just being contained to the younger ages. I hope to educate people with this hub.

      @Jainismus, I agree. Thanks for the opinion to add to the hub.

      @Julie, Glad to help share more information about the topic. Thanks for the vote and share!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      I find this very interesting. I have some friends that are constantly tethered to their iPhone. Their time with me is constantly being interrupted with phone calls, texts, checking email and Internet. I find that sad that their attention spans are so short and no I am definitely not a boring person. I didn't realize this was considered an official disorder. Very relevant article for the times!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      FOMO is definitely on the rise. Most of my friends, as far as I can tell, suffer from it; they all go on xbox, playstation, the computer and all that stuff and just go on there to have fun, but fear missing out on the latest trends in the community they "dedicate" their time to.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      8 years ago from Pune, India

      Great Hub. I think that a large part of our society is suffering from this phobia.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      8 years ago from Clinton CT

      hmmm...maybe I've struggled with this before...Never thought of it that way! LOL - RT and shared!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Nyamache, A sign of addiction is when your activity gets in the way of your daily activities and relationships. There does need to be balance but you are also allowed to be on HubPages. Addiction is an extreme behaviour. Thanks for the comment and glad you stopped by.

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 

      8 years ago from Kenya

      Thanks for this useful information. For me a day cannot pass without visiting websites to read articles especially hubspages. I do not know if I am addicted but what I know is that this has become my routine.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Curiad, wow that is addiction there for sure. I am glad you saw her dependency. I hope you are living life more fully now. Thank-you for sharing my friend. I am saddened by her relationship with her daughter and hope they get help. I hope you found some peace in the hub. Thanks for the compliments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Christy, this is such a great hub and a greatly needed message to millions of people these days. The woman I just spent the last 6 years supporting is so addicted to all these things (Internet/facebook/MySpace etc) that she spends 18 hours a day on it and her 14 year old daughter publicly states (I hate Her). She pushed me right out of a relationship 4 months ago and has been thrown out of 3 residences in 4 months. Bravo for writing this!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Rajan, yes the difficult part I feel is for people to really stick to that schedule. When the gadgets get turned off, they need to stay off for a period of time to let the brain rest and concentrate on other parts of life. Thanks for the votes, share, and compliments too my friend.

      @Peanut, I think in a way it is a good sign that you are uncomfortable as that means you realize that you may be heading toward addiction. Once you see those signs, you can begin to work at easing up on dependence on technology. Perhaps set time limits to your usage of different networks. Go for a walk or other exercises to clear your head. Take care you.

      @Debby, You are right that this topic is a growing concern. Yet I am amazed by how many people still do not know what FOMO is! Perhaps it is head in the sand phenomenon... thank-you for taking time to read and comment here.

      @Stephanie, Glad to hear you set boundaries for your dinner table. It is a good lesson to teach that they can survive the meal without sending a text or taking a phone call! Thanks for your great comment and perspective!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      This is a great topic to write about since I feel with the advent of these modern gadgets FOMO is a serious issue to contend with. It just need a bit of effort for us to make a schedule and stick to it.

      Very well written. Voted up and useful. Sharing it too.

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      8 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      This was quite uncomfortable to read as I seem to be a FOMO these days. It's a terrible habit to get into and feels weirdly similar to the anxious feelings I got when I was a cocaine addict! I think it's escalated with me now I'm out of work. Before I was far too busy to get near a computer!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      Dear Christy ~ I believe we will be talking about FOMO addiction more as people recognize their inability to focus, function and interact in their daily life. Technology has changed our lives forever. Unless, maybe we can learn to unplug.

      Blessings, Debby

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      I see this FOMO addiction close-up with teens especially. The addiction definitely puts a damper on real-life connections. While they never miss out on a status update, they seldom have the time for in-depth conversations with anyone! At our house, cell phones are banned at the dinner table, but certain members of our family get pretty twitchy about it! I enjoyed your article and will share!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Jools, the phone at the table wouldn't be my idea of fun either. The reliance on technology makes me sad and worry that people are missing out on nature and real-life relationships. We will see what happens with the tech trends. Thanks for the comment.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      8 years ago from North-East UK

      Happy to say I don't have it...but my daughter definitely does! She lives her entire life on line. She even keeps her phone beside her when we eat and it drives me mad!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Kizzy, Remember to put yourself first. As well, please reach out to a loved one in person and tell them how you are feeling. You will be surprised how many people can identify with you and will help you get through your difficult times. I hope you are able to take care of yourself, relax, and sleep too. Take care.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think I have FOMO but however I don't check social networking sites. I sit up at night stressing about things that are happening and how it's going to affect me if I don't go. I get so worried and stressed at missing out on what my friends do, I lose sight of why I couldn't do it and try to do everything with them. Sometimes I even feel physically sick with stress.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @ytsenoh, you are choosing to stand behind HubPages! Do you find yourself checking your stats often? I am glad you found me here on HubPages, the addiction seems to be growing here! Thanks for your comment.

    • ytsenoh profile image


      9 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Yes, interesting subject. Social networking obsessions is definitely on the rise, I agree. Very habit forming. I can't say too much about those addicted to facebook, for example, because I have what I would call a healthy addiction to HubPages.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Marc, the topic more relates to social media and computers. However, many people do also suffer from the addiction called gambling! Good logic you have :) Thanks for the comment!

      @Patti, Nice to see you here my friend :) With time you will likely be able to find an in-between. Perhaps try adding the social media visits to your daily to-do list and accompany the item with a set time you allot yourself to be on the applications. Thanks for your comment!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @teaches12345, as the role of technology increases in our lives we will be seeing more FOMO issues. I'm glad you take time for yourself :) Thanks for the comment and vote!

      @Ruby, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and learned more about the concept. Thanks for sharing too.

      @Tom, perhaps limit your checking behaviours to twice a day. That way you can see if your stats change during the day and when is your busiest time for hub reads. Thank-you for stopping by to read and comment.

    • Patti Riggs Hale profile image

      Patti Riggs Hale 

      9 years ago from Burdette, Arkansas

      I find I'm either off or on and never "just right" on this issue. I either waste a BUNCH of time checking, checking or I don't check enough and actually do miss an important message that I should have responded to earlier. It is a problem for me.

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 

      9 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      I always fear that if i don't buy a lottery ticket, i won't win the jackpot! (isn't that normal, though? you gotta buy a ticket to win, after all...)

    • Tom Vogler profile image

      Tom Vogler 

      9 years ago from The Shenandoah Valley

      I need to cut back on how often I check my hub-stats. I don't need to know hourly. They will still be there when I get back. :-) Another nice article.

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      9 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Thanks for a wonderful Hub! I hadn't thought about this much. Probably very true for many of us working on the web. Thanks for a heads up! Shared....LOL

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      9 years ago

      Great advice for those who suffer from FOMO. I do believe you are right, we are seeing a rise to this "disorder". I find that I must take a break from time to time from being on the computer, it can become addictive. Voted up!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Chris, you hit the nail on the head! FOMO is certainly on the rise. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

    • Chris Achilleos profile image

      Chris Achilleos 

      9 years ago

      Very interesting topic Cristy. In the last couple of years FOMO has increased a lot. Too much social networking may have a negative effect on ones well being. Voted up and interesting!


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