FOMO Meaning: What Does FOMO Mean?

The phenomenon known as FOMO, or fear of missing out, has become increasingly prevalent in today’s digitally connected world. This feeling of anxiety stems from the perception that others are experiencing more enjoyable or fulfilling events and activities and that by not participating, one is missing out on essential life experiences. FOMO can be exacerbated by social media platforms, where individuals constantly share updates on their lives, which may portray an idealized version of reality that leads to envy and lowered self-esteem among those who feel left out.

FOMO is not limited to just social events or gatherings but can also include the fear of missing out on the latest gossip, news, and trends. This anxiety leads individuals to be constantly connected to their devices, checking for updates and fearing that they may be left behind. The impact of FOMO is far-reaching, with people making decisions based on their perceived need to be in the know or included in experiences to improve their lives.

Key Takeaways

  • FOMO refers to the anxiety about missing out on enjoyable experiences others are partaking
  • Social media platforms contribute to FOMO by showcasing idealized versions of others’ lives
  • The fear of missing out affects individuals’ decisions and can impact their self-esteem

FOMO Meaning

What Does FOMO Mean?

FOMO means “fear of missing out.”

It is an internet slang acronym that has come about with the rise in social media and posting pictures of events, parties, and gatherings. It’s used to describe a situation where someone has a fear or anxiety of missing out on social events that their other friends or contacts may currently be engaged in.

Social media users that suffer from the “fear of missing out” may end up constantly checking their devices for social media updates to see what their friends are doing. This can sometimes lead to these people cancelling plans or obsessing over what others are doing rather than enjoying their own life.

There really aren’t any other types of similar internet slang that can be used instead of “FOMO.” Rather, we can describe a person as being anxious, paranoid, or uneasy in general. That is to say that there is no one word that could replace this internet slang term but there are a lot of words we can use to describe someone’s behavior who has “FOMO.”

Since this texting abbreviation is most often used on social media, it is more likely to be used by young social media users.

FOMO’s Origin

The origin of this text acronym is said to come from the 1990s and was made popular after the September 11th terror attacks in New York City. The original phrase was “FOBO,” fear of a better option. After these attacks, people realized that life was often not guaranteed that this less to a desire to live every day to the fullest. People would often be looking for better opportunities, or options, for activities that they were currently engaged in.

Similarly, “FOMO” is a new form of “FOBO” as people look on social media for better options because they don’t want to miss out on having a fun time.

Related Terms to FOMO

FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is a relatively recent term describing the anxiety or perception that others are living better lives or experiencing better things than oneself. This phenomenon typically involves a deep sense of envy and can negatively affect self-esteem. Several related terms have emerged alongside FOMO that encapsulate different aspects of modern social interactions and behaviors. These terms include JOMO, ROMO, envy, peer pressure, phubbing, FOJI, MOMO, and rage.

JOMO refers to the Joy of Missing Out, which is the opposite of FOMO. People experiencing JOMO embrace the idea of not participating in every social event or experiencing everything available to them. They find satisfaction in their present moment, prioritizing self-care and setting healthy boundaries with their time and energy.

ROMO or the Reality of Missing Out acknowledges the inevitability of not being able to participate in every social opportunity. ROMO is when individuals accept that they cannot be everywhere at once and focus on what is important and valuable to them.

Envy is a long-standing concept and is related to FOMO as it refers to the feeling of discontent and resentment towards someone else’s possessions, qualities, or achievements. The sensation of envy can contribute to the fear of missing out, as individuals compare their lives to those of others.

Peer Pressure is the influence that social groups exert on individuals to conform to the group’s expectations. Peer pressure can contribute to FOMO by creating a sense of obligation to participate in certain activities and maintain specific standards to fit in with a social circle.

Phubbing is a term that describes the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by paying more attention to one’s phone than the people around them. Phubbing can contribute to FOMO by fostering the feeling of exclusion among those being ignored.

FOJI (Fear of Joining In) is another term related to FOMO, where individuals feel anxiety about participating in social events or engaging with others due to a fear of not fitting in or being judged by their peers.

MOMO or the Mystery of Missing Out refers to the curiosity that arises when people are not present at an event or activity, leading to speculation about what they are missing. MOMO can contribute to FOMO by creating a sense of disconnection and isolation.

Rage is a term to describe the intense feelings of anger, resentment, or frustration that can arise as a result of experiencing FOMO or other related terms. Rage can be directed towards oneself for missing out or towards others when comparing oneself to their perceived social or personal successes.

Other Meanings

  • Friends Of Music One
  • F***ed Over More Often
  • Fear of Missing Out
  • Friends of Mulanje Orphans
  • Fear Of Missing Oreos
  • Fort Moultrie (US National Park Service)

FOMO Synonyms

FOMO, also known as Fear of Missing Out, is a commonly used term to describe the anxiety or apprehension one may feel when they believe they are missing out on enjoyable experiences or opportunities that others are having. In this section, we will explore some synonyms and alternative phrases for FOMO to provide a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.

One synonym for FOMO is “keeping up with the Joneses.” This phrase refers to the drive to outdo one’s peers or neighbors in terms of social status, accomplishments, or material possessions. It encapsulates the idea of constantly comparing oneself to others and feeling the need to “keep up” with their perceived success.

Another term often associated with FOMO is the “rat race.” This expression represents the idea that people are constantly competing against one another to achieve more and attain higher social standing. The rat race can foster a sense of urgency and stress, as individuals may work tirelessly to meet societal expectations rather than focusing on their own satisfaction and well-being.

FOMO can also manifest in the fear of losing or the fear of not achieving a particular goal or experience. This fear can be described as “kiasu.” The term “kiasu culture” highlights a mindset where individuals always strive to be the best or stay ahead of the competition. Kiasu culture can lead to increased anxiety and an unhealthy focus on achievement at the expense of personal happiness.

FOMO Examples

In Texting and Social Posts

FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” often permeates social media platforms and personal interactions through texting. This psychological phenomenon manifests as anxiety or dread around missing out on events, experiences, or trends, and can lead to an increase in social media use and a sense of urgency in responding to notifications.

One common example of FOMO in texting is a group chat where friends are discussing weekend plans or recounting a recently attended party. As participants share photos and details of the event, those who were not present may begin to feel a sense of FOMO. This might prompt them to respond quickly, ask numerous questions, or try to make up for their absence by suggesting future gatherings. The fear of missing out on future events or social bonding may result in individuals checking their messages more frequently or responding quickly to avoid feeling left out.

On social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, users may experience FOMO by noticing posts of friends on vacation, attending parties, or having other exciting experiences. The desire to keep up with these peer activities can lead to increased social media engagement and sometimes even unhealthy comparison.

Brands and marketers also contribute to the pervasive FOMO culture through their advertising strategies. Flash sales, exclusive offers, and limited-time promotions may induce a sense of urgency in consumers, who fear missing out on a good deal or a popular product. The “fear of missing out” marketing approach can be quite effective, inciting impulsive purchases or driving greater engagement with a brand’s social media content.

In Conversations

Here are some examples of how this online acronym can be used:

Example 1

  • Friend 1: What are you doing tonight?
  • Friend 2: Hmm, I don’t know yet. I’m kind of tired, but I might go out.
  • Friend 1: I’m going out with Roy and Johnny later if you want to join.
  • Friend 2: You know I never wanted to see Johnny again after last time right? I dunno though, I might go anyway.
  • Friend 1: You’re still mad about that? What do you even want to come out then?
  • Friend 2: It’s the FOMO dude. I can’t let you guys have a good time without me.

In this conversation between two friends, we see a situation that happens often. Friend 1 invites Friend 2 to a small gathering where one of Friend 2’s enemies may be present. Friend 2 shows a desire to attend the event despite the presence of his enemy due to his “FOMO.”

Example 2

  • Friend 1: OMG, Cindy is pissed at us because we didn’t tell her about our trip. Can you believe it?
  • Friend 2: You didn’t tell her? I thought you did?
  • Friend 1: Well, I thought someone else would. She seriously has FOMO, she needs to calm down.
  • Friend 2: Well it’s not FOMO when you actually are missing out.

This texting conversation shows a situation that often occurs. Friend 1 forgot to invite their mutual friend, Cindy, on a trip. Friend 1 blames Cindy’s reaction on “FOMO.” Friend 2 thinks it is not “FOMO” because Cindy was excluded from the trip.

FOMO Meaning Infographic


Frequently Asked Questions

What are common examples of FOMO?

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, can manifest in various ways. Common examples include feeling anxious about not attending social events, gatherings, or staying updated with the latest gossip or news.

How does FOMO relate to psychology?

FOMO is a psychological phenomenon that arises from the sense of envy and impacts an individual’s self-esteem. It can be triggered by comparing oneself to others, especially through social media, and perceiving that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things.

What are the symptoms of FOMO?

Symptoms of FOMO may include anxiety, apprehension, restlessness, and constant checking of social media platforms. It can lead to negative emotions like envy, jealousy, and low self-esteem. In some cases, FOMO might also cause feelings of guilt or shame for not being as socially active or engaged as others.

How does social media contribute to FOMO?

Social media platforms often contribute to FOMO by showcasing curated, idealized versions of people’s lives, which may lead to false perceptions that others’ experiences are better than one’s own. These platforms also grant easy access to information about social events and gatherings, making it harder for individuals to avoid comparing their experiences to others’ and triggering FOMO.

What is the opposite of FOMO?

The opposite of FOMO is JOMO, or the joy of missing out. JOMO fosters a sense of gratitude for the experiences one can enjoy in their own life, rather than feeling envious or anxious about what others might be doing. It promotes contentment and mindfulness, embracing the present moment and appreciating the value of solitude or personal space.

How can one cope with FOMO among friends?

To cope with FOMO, it’s essential to acknowledge and accept one’s feelings and emotions first. Practice gratitude and focus on the positives of your own life. Set boundaries around the use of social media, and prioritize self-care and meaningful connections with friends and loved ones. Engaging in activities that bring personal joy and satisfaction can also help alleviate the fear of missing out.