What to Do When Facebook Fosters FOMO

A few months ago, I blogged about research that revealed how Facebook caused depression in users. Those who logged on often felt good about themselves as they entered the site, but became jealous of all the great vacation pics, hookups and new jobs friends were experiencing. It’s enough to make you want to log off.


The University of Michigan just released a report on their own study. They showed that Facebook, while it has many positive qualities, can reduce young adults’ sense of well-being (self-esteem) and satisfaction with life. The more they browsed, the worse they felt. More time on-line just makes it worse.

In case you didn’t know, Facebook has over a billion users and half of them log on daily. (If it were a country, FB would be the third largest country in the world). On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for the basic human need of social connection. Sadly, it may undermine it as well. Researchers say it absolutely sparks FOMO: “Fear Of Missing Out.”

FOMO is one of the most significant emotions kids feel today. Consider their world. They’re growing up in a time when they can see or know everything about what’s happening to anyone else they choose, in real time. What’s more, FB members usually post the best photos from their vacation, their date, or their game. Of course they may feel jealous, inferior, anxious, depressed and fearful of missing out.

Five Suggestions for Students:

  1. Don’t get on FB when you’re lonely. It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. It’s just not smart. On-line connections distort things.
  2. Seek direct, personal connections. The research showed that people did not feel worse about themselves (no effect) when they directly met people.
  3. Never allow on-line connections to replace real ones with people. I believe Facebook has its place, but is no substitute for face-to-face friendships.
  4. Use solitude for other things. Often people can enjoy isolation or solitude for reading, exercising, journaling, planning, etc.) Capitalize on what you can.
  5. Remember it’s all about perception. A number of recent studies indicate that people’s perceptions of social isolation (i.e. how lonely they feel) are a more powerful determinant of well-being than objective social isolation.”

One psychologist said, “As a society as a whole we haven’t really learned the rules that make us work well with Facebook,” adding some people became unable to control their experience with it.

Let me know your thoughts. How would you respond to this research?


What to Do When Facebook Fosters FOMO