In the recent 2 decades, FOMO, or the fear of missing out, has been raised to the public’s attention because of the possible correlation between FOMO, depression, and social media. If you were to tell me that you have experienced sadness because your friends are out posting on social media without you, you would be describing one of the many definitions and causes of FOMO. However, although social media has become a staple in most adolescent’s lives, this does not necessarily mean that FOMO only affects people that use social media. The concept of FOMO is a relatively new acronym, being introduced originally in 2004, and later on in 2010 it was reintroduced and researched more heavily because a narrative was made that it had direct links to social media. However, FOMO, the way it is defined, is a psychological effect on the brain and with that information we can conclude that it can be applied to any life scenario in any individual. A simple example of FOMO would be a person who could drive by a nice house and not particularly have the money for something of that elegance. That individual would instantly feel anxious and fear they are missing out on something they could have. 

The fear of missing out is quite self explanatory, defined as one fearing that others are living better lives or possibly they could be missing great opportunities. The need to belong is arguably the leading motivator in a person’s life. When an individual feels as if they do not belong in a particular setting or environment, instant effects hit. FOMO is associated with harmful lingering effects such as poor sleep, anxiety, depression. It can be caused in any age group, but has closely been researched in the adolescent age category. In an article published by PubMed that takes a deep dive into the lingering effects that FOMO can cause, a study was conducted where 101 adolescents experienced fear that they would not be able to sleep, which caused them to have extremely low rates of sleep. Instinctively, everybody wants to do everything they possibly can, but comparing yourself to others only causes harm to yourself. 

The main question that is asked when researching FOMO is why do we feel this way? Ultimately, it is not because of social media or others that cause an individual to feel this way, yet is an independent, self concept. This means that if an individual is constantly comparing themselves to others, they are more likely to experience FOMO. In a case study titled: Why Do People Experience the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO)? Exposing the Link Between the Self and the FoMO Through Self-Construal, the independent, self-construal is when an individual “evaluates other people around them as part of their self.” This inevitably leads to the individual being concerned about what others are doing. This self-construal concept is extremely important because it is the person’s ability to identify and evaluate themselves. 

FOMO is a relatively new concept studied among adolescents, but studies show the basic concept of the fear of missing out applies to all age groups and causes extreme anxiety in the work industry among adults. In an article published by Christopher Budnick titled: The Fear of Missing Out at Work, a narrowed definition of FOMO is taken and applied to individuals in the work industry. Workplace FOMO is defined as a “pervasive apprehension that, relative to other employees, one might miss valuable career opportunities when away or disconnected from work,” which leads to poor performance in work, self dissatisfaction, and the ultimate well being in an individual. They describe relational exclusion as a concept that occurs when an employee feels as if they are missing out on networking opportunities, which could lead to poor professional relationships. In professional businesses, networking with others and building relationships is the most important key to success. These professional relationships that are sustained help someone to get good advice or even a new position somewhere. When an individual misses work whether it be being away on vacation or not feeling well, a survey take

of 324 United States employees stated they felt many different types of ways when they missed out. Some of these examples they stated are “I worry I will miss out on networking opportunities that my coworkers will have”, “I fear that my coworkers might make business contracts that I won’t make”, and “I worry that I might miss important work related updates.” This helps to prove that there are several different lingering effects of FOMO and can cause extreme negative influences on the brain like less motivation, performance, and well being. 

Although I am not trying to prove that social media is the leading factor of FOMO, it is still important to note the effects and research that has been heavily done in the recent decade. FOMO is mostly associated with teenagers and college students, as that is the primary age of social media users. Young individuals who are excessive social media users receive consequential effects on the brain. Since social media has become so popular, it allows people to realize or think about just how much they are missing out on. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram harm people’s self confidence because these apps are essentially a way to post the best moments of your life, rather than your worst. Social media apps cause a false narrative to the life that is being lived. These joy filled posts make somebody feel as if they are missing out on a rewarding experience or uninvolved in an event. In a poll conducted by the Association for Consumer Research, out of 198 participants, 75% of those correlated the fear of missing out with social events or their friends. Human belonging is the driving force for motivation and well being, and social media has caused individuals to be so easily harmed by viewing a false created life on social media.


Dogan, V. (2019). Why do people experience the fear of missing out (FOMO)? exposing the link between the self and the Fomo through self-construal. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 50(4), 524–538.

Association for consumer research – (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2023, from

Author links open overlay panelChristopher J. Budnick a, a, b, c, AbstractThe popular business media argues that the “fear of missing out” (FoMO) on work-related opportunities harms employees’ health and performance. Yet, Yildirim, C., Wolniewicz, C. A., Scott, H., Roberts, J. A., Ragsdale, J. M., House, R. J., Elhai, J. D., Berenbaum, H., Alt, D., Ajzen, I., Allen, T. D., Ashton, M. C., Bakker, A. B., Barber, L. K., … Gibbons, F. S. (2019, October 10). The fear of missing out at work: Examining costs and benefits to employee health and motivation. Computers in Human Behavior. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from

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