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July 10, 2013

Fear of missing out? You're not the only one

(Continued)

Over the past few years, there's been a lot of research on the way social media influences FOMO. Recent research suggests people who experience FOMO are most likely to value social media as part of their social development. Status updates and tweets ("OMG best night ever!") let us know about all the exciting activities happening while we're home catching up with the "Jersey Shore" crowd. Some psychologists even suggest FOMO helps drive the success of social media platforms, since we feel we need to use the technology to let us know what's happening elsewhere. But in some cases, FOMO might actually be a motivator, encouraging us to socialize with friends.

Some argue that the feelings associated with FOMO strengthen connections with others, encouraging people to be more socially active. While it might be antisocial to sit around checking out the Facebook pages of pseudo-strangers, it's possible to use social media in a constructive way, like keeping in touch with friends and planning activities. (Maybe it's time to reconnect with an old buddy who lives nearby?)

Psychologists say fears about missing out may be a type of cognitive distortion, causing irrational thoughts — such as believing that friends hate you if you didn't get an invite to last week's party — associated with depression. For people prone to such thoughts, modern technology may just exacerbate their fears about missing out. So experts say unplugging all those gadgets might not solve the problem as well as engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy or another kind of talk therapy might.

Whatever you do, remember when scoping out other people's plans, especially online, that many people project their most idealized selves on the Web. So spy with a skeptical eye. And to those who are confident enough in their plans for this Friday night . . . well, hats off.

-- Greatist.com

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