Wed 23 Mar 2011
Why is Facebook so popular, why do rednecks in Wyoming smoke so much meth and why are smartphones so intertwined in our lives that if we leave home without them, we’ll turn around and go back and get them in order to avoid the sickening feeling of technological nakedness? FOMO. (The Fear of Missing Out.)
“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.”*
We check Facebook and RBDN so frequently because we have the unnerving feeling that others are having more fun and living more abundantly than we are. Not incidentally, the suspicion that other people are having greater amounts of fun heavily drives Las Vegas attendance– you keep going back because other people seem to be having SO MUCH FUN. “What happens here (and I’m talking AMAZING HIJINKS) stays here!” wink. wink. This oppressive fear, magnified by media consumption, leads to escapism– like narcotics. If you live in the sticks, you can’t escape the presented reality that your life pales in comparison to the exciting lives of others. That’s when you mix up a bowl of Sudafed and match heads and add a toss in a bath of iodine and HCL…
And now you know.
* src: http://caterina.net/wp-archives/71