Posts tagged with "Fear of missing out (FOMO)"

Too much information (TMI) is now a worldwide problem

April 17, 2019

Are you media-bashed? Are there just too many tweets, hashtags, news reports, Facebook comments, curated photos, streaming videos, surveys, petitions, and emails for you to process in a day—and more coming all the time?

You have plenty of company—based on findings of a study conducted in Europe by the Technical University of Denmark, Technische Universität Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and University College Cork; and published by the journal, Nature Communications.

Indeed, researchers have found that our collective attention span is narrowing due to the negative effects of an overabundance of social media, plus the hectic 24-hour news cycle to which we exposed.

What’s more, collectively, sociologists, psychologists, and teachers have warned of an emerging crisis stemming from a  fear of missing out (FOMO), the pressure to keep up-to-date on social media, and breaking news coming at us 24/7. So far, the evidence to support these claims has only been hinted at or has been largely anecdotal. There has been an obvious lack of a strong empirical foundation.

“It seems that the allocated attention in our collective minds has a certain size, but that the cultural items competing for that attention have become more densely packed. This would support the claim that it has indeed become more difficult to keep up to date on the news cycle, for example.” says Professor Sune Lehmann from DTU Compute.

The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. In addition, they have gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015), and Wikipedia (2012-2017).

When looking into the global daily top 50 hashtags on Twitter, the scientists found that peaks became increasingly steep and frequent: In 2013 a hashtag stayed in the top 50 for an average of 17.5 hours. This gradually decreases to 11.9 hours in 2016.

This trend is mirrored when looking at other domains, online and offline–and covering different periods. Looking, for instance, at the occurrence of the same five-word phrases (n-grams) in Google Books for the past 100 years, and the success of top box office movies. The same goes for Google searches and the number of Reddit comments on individual submissions.

“We wanted to understand which mechanisms could drive this behavior. Picturing topics as species that feed on human attention, we designed a mathematical model with three basic ingredients: “hotness,” aging, and the thirst for something new.” says Dr. Philipp Hövel, lecturer for applied mathematics, University College Cork.

When more content is produced in less time, it exhausts the collective attention earlier. The shortened peak of public interest for one topic is directly followed by the next topic, because of the fierce competition for novelty.

“The one parameter in the model that was key in replicating the empirical findings was the input rate— the abundance of information. The world has become increasingly well connected in the past decades. This means that content is increasing in volume, which exhausts our attention and our urge for ‘newness’ causes us to collectively switch between topics more rapidly.” says postdoc Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Since the available amount of attention remains more or less the same, the result is that people are more rapidly made aware of something happening and lose interest more quickly. However, the study does not address attention span on the level of the individual person, says Sune Lehmann:

Our data only supports the claim that our collective attention span is narrowing. Therefore, as a next step, it would be interesting to look into how this affects individuals, since the observed developments may have negative implications for an individual’s ability to evaluate the information they consume. Acceleration increases, for example, the pressure on journalists to keep up with an ever-changing news landscape. We hope that more research in this direction will inform the way we design new communication systems, such that information quality does not suffer even when new topics appear at increasing rates.”

Research contact: @DTUtweet

JOMO: The joy of missing out

July 31, 2018

On Facebook and other social media channels, we find out that our “friends” are travelling to exotic places, seeing their children graduate from school, visiting with adorable grandchildren, going to rock concerts and museums, spending the day at the beach, taking selfies with the stars, or starting a new job. Many of us scroll down obsessively, in order to find out what the rest of the world is doing while we are sitting at our computers. Indeed, social media inevitably fosters fear of missing out (FOMO)—although (if we are honest with ourselves) we actually would avoid many of the activities in which these friends are engaging.

Another driver of FOMO is the social pressure to be at the right place with the right people (like that awesome party everyone else enjoyed last weekend). This pressure from society combined with the fear of missing out can wear us down and can decrease our happiness.

Indeed, based on the findings of a recent survey on LinkedIn, 70% of workers admit that when they take a vacation, they don’t disconnect from work. Our digital habits—constantly checking messages and social media—have become so entrenched, that it is nearly impossible to enjoy “getting away from it all,” because we may be missing something.

However, LinkedIn suggests, there is an antidote: Instead of living in perpetual fear of missing out, many are embracing a new approach to our always-on, tech-dependent lives. They are taking the time to tune out. Call it JOMO, or the joy of missing out.

“JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life,” says Kristin Fuller, M.D. in a recent issue of Psychology Today.

“You do not need to compare your life to others; but, instead, practice tuning out the background noise of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants’ and learn to let go of worrying [about] whether you are doing something wrong,” she says. “JOMO allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections, to be intentional with our time, to practice saying  ‘no,’ to give ourselves tech-free breaks—and to give ourselves permission to acknowledge where we are and to feel emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses, JOMO allows us to be who we are in the present moment, which is the secret to finding happiness. When you free up that competitive and anxious space in your brain, you have so much more time, energy and emotion to conquer your true priorities.”

She advises us to:

  • Be intentional with your time: Schedule something that is important to you, whether it is working out, meeting a friend for coffee, writing that book or completing a work project. Make your time your priority instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.
  • Give yourself permission to live in the present: If you are having a bad day, be easy on yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing evening. If you just received good news, then take a moment to embrace it and celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then re-assess why you are feeling this way.
  • Embrace tech-free time: Unsubscribe from social media accounts; and un-follow individuals who trigger your FOMO, or cause you any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only status scroll when you are at home on your computer.
  • Practice saying “no”: You do not always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying “no” is the best kind of self-love. Even if you want to help someone, but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say “no,” in order to protect yourself.
  • Experience real life (not social media life): JOMO allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments suckered into the drama of social media, disconnect and do the things that you enjoy—such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family.
  • Slow down: Take time to think before you speak, embrace the quiet, use time driving in traffic or waiting in lines to sit with your thoughts or listen to a book. Slowing down can increase our creativity, which we can harvest into other productive avenues and projects in our life.

Fuller notes, “Instead of having FOMO over silly experiences on social media, we should be wary about having FOMO over missing moments with loved ones, watching sunsets, laughing at jokes, traveling, walking barefoot through the grass, hearing the sound of the ocean, and enjoying good food with family and friends.”

Research contact: @gldnminded

Secret shame: When FOMO drives you into debt

April 10, 2018

Do you spend in response to social pressure or FOMO (fear of missing out)? Whether it is the cost of an after-work drink, a new outfit for a party, tickets to a concert, the latest smartphone, or an Uber ride, we all ante up in order to be “included” in the experiences of our closest groups of friends.

In fact, nearly 40% of Millennials have spent money they don’t have and gone into debt to keep up with their peers, based on findings of a poll of 1,045 U.S. adults conducted by Credit Karma/Qualtrics.

What’s more, they’re afraid to admit it.

When a friend suggests doing something they can’t afford, 27% of Millennials feel uncomfortable saying “no.” And out of the 39% of Millennials who’ve gone into debt to keep up with their friends, nearly three-quarters (73%) have kept it a secret.

What they may not realize is that some of their friends may feel the same way. Two-thirds of Millennials regret spending more on social situations than they had planned, and one-third (36%) doubt they’ll be able to sustain this lifestyle for another year without going into debt.

This is especially concerning given that Millennial Credit Karma members in the United States each already have $46,713 in debt on average. 

Specifically, what do Millennials spend on because they’re afraid to miss out?

  • Going out with friends and having a good time is one of the top types of FOMO spending, with nearly 60% buying food, while 33% buy alcohol.;
  • Fully 21% of Millennials admit they feel pressured to spend money they don’t have for parties or nightlife.
  • Four out of 10 Millennials who overspent to keep up with their friends made travel purchases. That could include a two-week vacation, a weekend trip with their significant other or a trip to attend a friend’s wedding.
  • One-quarter of Millennials who have spent too much to keep up with their friends purchased tickets to a music event, while 17 percent attended a sporting event.

But it’s not all about experiences. Many M feel pressured to buy items such as clothes (41%), electronics (26%), jewelry (18%) and cars (16%) even when they can’t afford them.

However, there is some good news: Credit Karma found that more than half of respondents seemed to have their FOMO spending habits under control. Fifty-three percent of Millennials say they make purchases they can’t afford to keep up with their friends no more than once a year, while 25% of respondents say they never make FOMO purchases.

But there’s room for improvement: 25% of Millennials who have a FOMO spend several times each year, while 21% of respondents admit to making these purchases at least once a month.

Credit Karma also looked at how much young Americans typically spend each weekend when they’re hanging out with their friends: Most (69%) spend $100 or less over a typical weekend; while 15% spend between $101 and $250; 16, more than $250; and 7%, more than $500.

These responses don’t account for differences in the cost of living across the country. So while $100 might be a lot to spend in some areas, it doesn’t go as far in other places.

According to Expatistan’s cost of living index, a fancy dinner for two would cost $119 in New York City compared to only $74 in St. Louis. And a cocktail out on the town would cost $16 in New York City but only $8 in St. Louis.

Finally, Credit Karma found that 78% of Millennials who responded have a budget, but 20% of them go over their budget on a monthly basis to keep up with their friends.

Research contact: @Greg-Lull