Read this blog post by Caterina Fake (co-founder of Flickr and Hunch), about the “Fear of Missing Out,” and how it drives our use of social media. Or don’t read it, just read this excerpt:
“FOMO is a great motivator of human behavior, and I think a crucial key to understanding social software, and why it works the way it does. Many people have studied the game mechanics that keep people collecting things (points, trophies, check-ins, mayorships, kudos). Others have studied how the neurochemistry that keeps us checking Facebook every five minutes is similar to the neurochemistry fueling addiction. 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.”
I certainly suffer from FOMO, as I imagine we all do to some extent. I’m conscious of it and I try to minimize it, but sometimes it feels worse to have 10 options for saturday night and agonize between them, than to have just 1 solid option and go for it. Sunday morning, you’re wondering if the other parties Had More Fun. This is an extremely pointless line of thinking. It can be so difficult to wring the positive effects out of social media; often, it rarely feels worth it to be on facebook. There’s so much potential for good, but for whatever reason it’s very difficult to take advantage of only the good, and keep away from the FOMO and the endless comparisons, a thousand ways to poke your every insecurity or small hurt. Flicking through profiles, thinking: Are they achieving more than me? Are they prettier? Are they having more fun with their new partner than they were with me? I’m sure we’ve all done this at least once.
Anyhow, Caterina Fake is an interesting lady, who is a total master/mistress of social media. I read an article about her in Wired awhile ago – in fact, I think I read it while sitting in C&C’s bathroom, probably the best place to read Wired magazine. Here’s the article: What You Want: Flickr Creator Spins Addictive New Web Service.