FO·MO /ˈfōmō/ Noun informal anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
How often do I check my phone? I refresh my email to see if a new message has arrived. I hear that “ding!” tone, and I instantly swipe my device to unlock.
Sounds like we’ve been drugged or trained like Pavlov’s dog.
Walk through a mall (Yes. People still shop in malls.), and you’ll see the majority of shoppers, both young and old, walking around with bags in one hand and their smartphone in the other.
We’re like a dog on a leash. We need to know that our master is nearby and we’re in a safe place.
Think about it. Have you ever put down your phone for a split second and then looked back for it, and it’s not there? A wave of anxiety hits you like hot air hitting you in the summer after leaving the comforts of a cool, air-conditioned home.
So what does that have to with the “fear of missing out’?
We want to be connected. Actually, We need to be connected.
Gamers top the list of groups with FOMO. The IndieGameReport discusses how it becomes a source of stress when not connecting with others.
But as much as FOMO creates anxiety or stress, it can also be a source of fulfillment and lead to Intrinsic motivation. “Intrinsic Motivation” is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external prods, pressures, or rewards.
Users of apps and games are rewarded in a number of ways. They can include badges, points, and getting featured on a leaderboard. And when the user doesn’t participate in the activity, they feel left out.
Many app publishers incorporate features and tactics to create this sense of urgency– especially when there is randomness added to the result.
Jinglz has created the PlayJinglz app which incorporates a certain level of FOMO for the player. But the nice thing about this is that all users are rewarded in some fashion when participating. That’s the difference between scratching a lottery ticket that is not a winner and feeling disappointment and loss versus knowing that there will be a reward but the amount is unknown. That can alleviate the fear of missing out.