Following the Joneses: FOMO and conspicuous sociality

  • Joseph Reagle
Keywords: FOMO, envy, social comparison, social media


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).

Author Biography

Joseph Reagle
Assistant Professor Communication Studies Northeastern University
How to Cite
Reagle, J. (2015). Following the Joneses: FOMO and conspicuous sociality. First Monday, 20(10).