Following the Joneses: FOMO and conspicuous sociality
I argue that the proliferation of the term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and its siblings (FOBO, FODA, MOMO, FODO) can be understood as envy-related anxiety about missed experiences (fear of missing out) and belonging (fear of being left out). Beyond feelings, people who speak of FOMO also speak of it as a behavior, most often as a compulsivity (related to what I characterize as conspicuous sociality) and as an illness to be remedied. And although FOMO is often seen as a recent phenomenon, I argue it is a continuation of a centuries-old concern and discourse about media-prompted envy and anxiety (i.e., “keeping up with the Joneses” and neurasthenia).
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