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FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is an acronym for when a person feels anxiety or stress from missing out on or not being invited to a social event. FOMO feelings are typically amplified for frequent visitors of social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, where users see a continual stream of pictures, videos and comments of parties, events, outings or other life activities that they may not have been invited to or able to attend.

While FOMO originated as millennial-speak, the acronym has become so mainstream that the Oxford English Dictionary added it in 2013 (along with other 21st century terms like selfie and emoji):

             "Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media."

FOMO's Effect on Young (and Not So Young) Adults

FOMO can be used by some as motivation to be more social or active, but in most cases the overwhelming amount of activities seen on social networking sites and the inability to attend all of them or be a part of each event can lead to feelings of stress and depression.

FOMO Graph
Source: Alex Blum Consumerism Blog

FOMO also frequently manifests as a 21st century version of "Keeping up with the Joneses," both for young and mature adults. The negative feelings of stress and depression from FOMO can be amplified when the constant stream of social media content shows so many others having (or appear to be having) exciting experiences or reaching milestone accomplishments, especially if the person seeing them feels unable to keep up or compete with their peers.

FOMO has become so prevalent that some mental health professionals have termed it an epidemic among young adults and a pervasive mental health syndrome for all ages.

A 2013 survey by MyLife.com revealed 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news and important social network status updates, and that the percentage has continued to rise each year, particularly among millennials, who are spending increasingly more time online and connected to social networks.

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