Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FOMO & The Social Media Mean Girls

My friend-slash-coworker and I were nattering on Facebook about social media, and she introduced me to a fabulous new wordcronym (word + acronym): FOMO. Have you heard of this term? I may be the last person in the English-speaking world to have learned about this, but it stands for Fear Of Missing Out. Isn’t that a fantastic term??

FOMO came up in conversation because we were discussing (lamenting? whining about?) the incessant barrage of new social media sites that are touted as “must knows” and “must participates” and “you’re a loser if you’re not on this one.” I may be calling myself out as a big losey-loser, but when Google+ was introduced, I kind of had a 3-year-old, shoulder slumpy, mouth-turny-downy, “aw, Mom do I HAVE TO learn this one, too??” moment. There, I said it.
"I have to learn ANOTHER social media site?? For realz??"

Look, I’m all about new technologies and communication tools that help us all stay in touch and re-establish social bonds and gain a country’s worth of sympathy when we have freaky airplane seatmates and show off photos of our dogs or kids or fancy pedicures. I get it. It is good. But this idea that we all have to be on every social site imaginable, continuously monitoring the state of each other’s nose hair and constantly making profound statements and observations to prove our excessive expertise… frankly, it’s laughable.

Yes, there are (virtual) piles of tools to help us share our fabulousness with the socialverse with a few easy clicks, but that doesn’t equate to being social or even really communicating. That’s referred to either as a piecemeal monologue or simply spouting. Do you know people who do this sort of thing in person? You do? And… how much do you enjoy hanging out with them? Just sayin’…

As for all of these sites being required participation, it’s just silliness. It’s becoming a competition, and a ludicrous one at that. It’s bordering on teenage clique-ish peer pressure. Think back to the time before the advent of social media. On what planet were any of us “expected” by all of our friends to purchase and read every single newspaper in the county and to simultaneously monitor every single TV station available? “Oh my gosh, did you notice that Janie still hasn’t subscribed to the latest newspaper, Smalltown’s Weekly Wag?? She gets the Bigville Daily Tribune and the Smalltown Daily Citizen and the Big-n-Small County News, so I can’t imagine what’s holding her up with this new paper. She’s so behind the times. At least she can work a remote like a fiend and run the full set of channels twenty times an hour.”

If you need further proof as to the lunacy behind all of this, think about people who already manage multiple pages on Facebook (personal page, company pages, client pages, etc.) and LinkedIn profiles and YouTube channels and accounts on Twitter – only four of the growing roster of social media Mean Girls enforced sites. And as of last week they now have to learn to work and keep straight yet another site we’re all expected to flock to. Seriously? I mean, just this past week, I’ve seen three tweets from people who manage multiple Twitter accounts apologizing for becoming confused and cross-pollinating their tweets, citing Twitter schizophrenia. Twitterphrenia Twitterphrenia’s not included in the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM, but keep your eyes open for the next edition.

Think we'll select YOU for one of our Circles? Do you even know what a Circle is?
Either way, we can probably bet we’ll see these poor, over-social-media’d Friends and Connections and Tweeps appear on Google+ very soon as well. It’s that darn FOMO that keeps rearing its ugly head. FOMO and peer pressure and fear of the social media Mean Girls. Are you afraid?


  1. FTLOG not a new social network!!! Can't agree more and am thrilled that Google+ doesn't allow company pages yet. :) I'm sure we'll see about 100 new vertical social networks in the next month too. The mommy ones are covered, but a bunch more are just waiting to pop up like little weeds.

    Love FOMO - new resolution... to use FOMO daily (or the Mean Girls might get me!)

  2. HAHA! I love "FTLOG"!! So many inappropriate-yet-somehow-appropriate definitions ran through my head in the few seconds it took me to decipher it. I will use that early and often. So glad you agree on this SM explosion. FTLOG.

  3. OMG!! So true! I love reading your blog. I have to tell you that I have been so busy that I am not even sure what Google+ is. Hmm... guess I my FOMO is not what it should be! lol

  4. Janice, I'm a dedicated MayTheFirst junkie. :) And if you have had other things to attend to than Google+... be happy.

  5. EXACTLY what we were talking about, Megan. It's insane! Worse yet, it has the potential of DRIVING me insane! =)

    Sylvia, I absolutely love the FTLOG. Took me a few seconds, too, but definitely less than a minute to figure it out. I actually had a "Yikes!" moment when I realized how easily deciphering the "wordcronyms" has become...and to think there was a time when I used to have to ask what it stood for. O.O

  6. Glad I can spread my favorite acronym! I'm terrible at figuring them out, but I google my way to giggles all the time. I have another one from a work friend: HOF=Hair on Fire (usually with a number from 1-10 attached to show the level of crazy in the request)


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