Why the “fear of missing out” is taking over our lives

Alexandra Stettner

Alexandra Stettner
Alexandra Stettner

It’s no secret college kids love smartphones. Between social media, music, Yik Yak, email, checking grades and texting, we never put them down. It’s a rare sight to see someone on campus who doesn’t have earbuds in, isn’t talking on the phone, or isn’t looking down and trusting everyone else to walk around them as they send that all-important text.

After reading an article about a woman who went three and a half months without her smartphone, I began to think about how well I could do that, or if I could do it at all.


While the woman who wrote the article needed her phone for work, she also had an iPad with her. Because of frequent Wi-Fi hotspots around, she was able to get away without having her smartphone with her. Similarly, many college students have laptops to check social media at coffee shops and in buildings before class. Furthermore, most of us don’t need our phones to stay in constant contact with work.

The roots of our addiction to constantly updating our phones and social media feeds is found in the “fear of missing out.”

The “fear of missing out” is described as a form of anxiety that one gets when they feel that other things are happening, and don’t want to get left behind. As a result, they just check their phone even more. Being in a world where 24-hour news is the norm and people post their every move on social media, it’s not surprising that this anxiety is an outcome of the constant information being thrown at us.

As a self-admitted addict of my phone, I know exactly how this “fear” feels. It’s a kind of knotting feeling in your stomach when you see an Instagram post of your friends out having a good time when you had work instead. You can’t help but wonder what was said when your friends were together without you, if anything dramatic happened, or if there are inside jokes that now you just won’t get.

I truly believe that technology has made the world a better place. Things get done more efficiently and quickly. It saves us time and leaves more for us to have fun and be social; not having to worry about the little things. However, it takes some self-evaluation to make sure that we are taking advantage of this extra free time, rather than spending it on our phones, and especially not spending time worrying about the things you might be missing out on.

Trust me, it won’t kill you to wait until you get home to make plans with a friend over text, or respond as fast as you can to the latest post on your Facebook wall. Try giving yourself an hour every day with no technology, read a book, go for a walk, or catch up with a friend over coffee. And for a bonus, try doing it without talking about the latest Snapchat update.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.