Fear of Missing Out

Via Kottke, a great little post on the anxiety, or Fear of Missing Out, that we all experience from time to time, and which is exacerbated by social media technologies:

Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on. You’re home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever before. And, like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you’re participating, not missing out, even when you are.

It’s an age-old problem, exacerbated by technology. To be always filled with craving and desire (also called defilement, affliction) is one of the Three Poisons of Buddhism, called kilesa, and it makes you a slave. There is true meaning in social media—real connections, real friendships, devotion, humor, sacrifice, joy, depth, love. And this is what we are looking for when we log on.

I think FOMO is a big reason why there seem to be so many commitment-phobic people about.  That sub-species of man who cannot settle down and make a long-term commitment to his girl, because secretly, deep down, he cannot let go of the thought that, somewhere out in the world, there may be someone better.  In doing so, they miss out on the pleasure that comes from making that deep commitment.

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