FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out is a common phenomenon in our information and digital economy. Some people wear it as a badge of honour, whereas others it is the first step towards overwhelm and the gripping need for a digital detox.
Fear is an important emotion and it serves us when keeping us safe. However, when applied to non-life threatening situation, fear can become irrational and self-serving.
FOMO is not new, ‘Keeping up with the Jones’’ is something people have experienced for an extraordinary length of time. In this day and age, FOMO is moving from the tangible to the intangible. People are also fearful of missing out on the latest gossip, news, updates, snippet of information, latest development, top fashion, hit song, new movie, latest catch-up, latest breakup, and not to mention what the celebrities are up to!
This fear, or FOMO, is sometimes expressed as feelings of being addicted to a social media platform. Think of how people feel when they hear the ping of a new email, the notification of a new Facebook post or comment, a new Blab, Periscope or Meerkat, and the NEED to go and investigate what lies within.
It’s timely that I came across a Buffer Social article outlining the brain chemistry response to social media and how it influences our behaviour. In summary, they found two main changes. The first was a rise in Dopamine, the chemical responsible for want and need. Dopamine production, is stimulated in response to small snippets of information paired with a reward. That sounds like most social media platforms! Oxytocin was the second neurotransmitter, this is the love hormone and is incredibly powerful in maternal bonding. Researchers saw an increase in Oxytocin equal to what some would experience at their own wedding in just 10 minutes of social media use.
So with these strong chemicals on board, it is no wonder that people feel addicted to social media. With continuous hits of these strong neurochemicals our brains are becoming addicted.
Watch this video to see me discuss FOMO and your brain.