Instagram and the Dawn of FOMO

kim kardashian

The social angst of missing out has been on the rise with the growing popularity of social media especially the visual kind –Instagram. Continuous knowledge of everyone else’s supposed eventful days and nights –illustrating the constant exhilarating adventures they’re having- put someone prone to the fear of missing out (FOMO) in a self-loathing mentality of not doing enough with their day.

While you are home getting ready for bed, Diane is sipping cocktail at a flashy casino in Las Vegas. You know this because she posted a picture of her pink frozen margarita with the caption “the good life” while her check-in location says she’s at “Cesar’s Palace.“ Now although you can’t afford such trip you begin to wonder why could you not be outside doing something similar.

A photo posted by _AllieKat_ (@ajhkat) on

The millennial relationship with people is one of being aware and keeping everyone aware of what is going on in their lives. “Check-In” sites such as Foursquare rely simply on the notion of giving users an up-to-date track on where they are and knowledge of where their friends are. The most recent popularity of Snapchat provides for the seconds-long pop-up photo to share of any type of situation with a quick remark to go with it. Still, Instagram allows for all of these factors- the place and picture- along with a video option that can be watched and re-watched whenever a follower chooses. One hour post-margarita Diane also deemed her time in the pool video-worthy. With 15 seconds of video someone’s story is deemed valuable for followers to watch. The idea is certain users want to not only keep up with one another but also one-up one another and let it be known. Updates on Instagram often make it look like every single moment of their lives is practically a party you were not invited to.

Using hash tags generates more FOMO because it helps a photo seem more popular. Thus, the person who posts the photo appears favored. The more hash tags used the more visibility the photo gets and in effect the possibility for more “likes.” This becomes almost like a competition for “likes” –promoting a sort of popularity contest. The number of followers a user has works in a similar way –portraying certain users lives more thrilling because more people want to see what goes on with them. Keeping up with the number of likes and followers becomes a task in order to not feel socially absent.

Food pictures -#foodporn- cannot only rattle up an observers appetite but FOMO. Such photos get you thinking as to why you don’t eat out as much. The repercussions of grief over the things you are not doing can be costly. Wanting to do enough for your social media friends to see is portrayed as simple as by getting a good bite to eat and using the “mayfair” filter to give the plate in front of you a more desirable appeal. Not only are phones being used at the table – your mother would not be pleased – but dinner is interrupted for a social media message that cost you $38 plus tip because you also had to go to the hip new restaurant where reservations have to be made almost a week in advance.

A photo posted by Iva Filipová (@iwushka89) on

Instagram does offer a creative way for users to share the things they do and love but at the same time this social tool is provoking a feeling of self-dissatisfaction among some people. FOMO becomes a problem when people’s finances or most importantly health suffer because they are constantly pushing themselves in order to feel like they are doing enough and to appear exciting.


Featured Photo Via flickr/ César


About Alison Cordero

I enjoy wandering and getting lost because that's the only way to discover new aspects about people, places, things and most significantly myself. I find inspiration in the various elements of travel, history, sports, fashion, music, movies and food. Writing is one of the most rewarding means for me to share my enthusiasm for the details of those inspirations.

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