Social media users connecting in a superficial way could be experiencing social anxieties caused by the fear of missing out (FOMO).
FOMO is a social phenomenon that describes people who have the bad habit of constantly checking their phones and social media feeds, to make sure they are up-to-date on everything happening. According to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior, Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out, FOMO affects young males in particular, and is “related to greater engagement with Facebook at key times in the day.”
Users are “hiding”
Kemila Zsange, a registered clinical counselling-hypnotherapist, said social media users project the image they want people to see.
“A lot of people actually hide their true self behind social media,” Zsange said.
Zsange said people with FOMO seek positive feedback from their friends and family on social forums, which leads to them constantly comparing themselves to others. But she added that the positive feedback a person gets from social media is temporary.
A contant addiction
Trina Leckie, editor of FOMO Vancouver, an event-information based website, said people are scared of missing out on something great, and the constant checking of social media becomes an addiction.
Humans are “missing out from spending quality face-to-face time,” Leckie said. “People are more connected than ever, yet suffer from isolation and loneliness.”
Leckie said it goes both ways, “FOMO can be so bad that even if friends are out together, often there is at least one person in the group… on their phone, checking Twitter and Facebook.”
Zac Hambrook, a first year Langara College environmental studies student, said people use social media “as a crutch to express a fake avatar of themselves.”
Hambrook said he uses social media to keep up-to-date with news because there are some good things out there, but you have to take social media “with a grain of salt.”
A search for “#FOMO” on Twitter turned up many instance of users complaining about their anxieties.