The joy of missing out

ANYONE WHO’S BEEN in sixth grade knows the feeling: Somewhere, someone is having a good time and we weren’t invited. That old-brain trauma is a useful trigger for our device manufacturers, who exploit it to keep us obsessively checking our social media feeds. Manipulative? Sure. But it works.

Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO in our acronym-addled vocabulary) is the societal disorder driving our compulsion to know what’s happening every second, whether it’s checking in on a stranger’s #NotSadDeskLunch or the latest celebrity death. The term was likely coined by Sherry Turkle, the MIT professor who has done important work on the psychology of online interactions and the human costs of constant media engagement.

As a journalist, I understand the allure of knowing things before everyone else. In the sleepy old days when news was reported at predictable intervals, it was a kick to know the next day’s headlines hours in advance. But I could have lived without knowing about the cat that interrupted the Marlins’ home opener, or the gecko with three tails, or seeing the video of some guy at a gas station getting mowed down by a galloping deer. And that was just during one quick check-in the other day.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe