FOMO, Anxiety, and Craving Content

If you frequent ‘hip’ sites like Tumblr and Instagram, you may have heard of the term, “FOMO”, or the “Fear Of Missing Out”. It’s typically applied to nights out and partying, but I’d like to apply it to more things. More specifically, online content.

The Internet has more on it than ever before, and that amount will only increase. Every day it becomes easier and easier for a content creator to make their art and share it with the world. It’s also become more simple for one to follow their favourite creators and to experience and consume what they want. For myself, I grew up with YouTube and its ‘subscriptions’. This was a great way to follow the channels that I wanted and to be able to see everything that person or group made; however, with the new trend of streaming with services like Twitch, that experience has greatly changed.

Twitch offers a great way for creators to interact with their fans in a real-time setting. It’s essentially a conversation of one with many. In principle, the idea is great and can cultivate big followings, but I fear there’s an underling issue of ‘FOMO’. The content itself does have its differences to that of a edited and planned YouTube video, but is still a creation of that artist.

As someone with anxiety, my desire to consume all a creator makes is warped into fear and anxiousness that I’ll miss something exciting or unique; especially when that creator doesn’t upload their streams for later viewing. Some of my favourite creators are beginning to stream more than make videos, and that subsequently means I’m more likely to miss out. I’ll hear about the great jokes and memes from a stream only afterwards on social media; most of the time, not getting the joke in its entirety until I’ve had it explained to me.

So what’s the solution? I’m not sure. Society is certainly headed towards this type of real-time content and there’s nothing that will really change that. What this means is that there must be a change in our behaviour. If you’re like myself, it’s best then to detach from the idea of streams all together or to accept that its okay to miss a few things. As much as we’d like to be able to consume everything, it really won’t make a difference down the line if you’ve seen everything or not. And if it’s so important and groundbreaking, you can catch-up with it later as someone is sure to have taped it (if it’s truly incredible). I know that’s easier said than done, but maybe that’s the answer or maybe its not. We can only consume so much in the time we have, we best make sure its what really makes us happy.

Additional Reading

Video by Tom Scott that predicts a future of rapid entertainment consumption

Time Article on FOMO

Psychology Today on FOMO

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