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FOMO is an acronym for the social disorder Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is a label for the sadness one feels when knowing he/she is missing a good time with loved ones, the worry one feels that memories are being made that he/she will not have, or the anxiety one feels when deciding between multiple equally fun-sounding events.


FOMO seems related to but opposite of several social anxiety disorders, including agorophobia[1], and antisocial behavior. Instead of anxiety caused by social situations, the anxiety is caused by not being able to decide which social situation to be a part of. Instead of shying away from social situations, sufferers have an obsessive need to be part of social situations they are unable to attend.


Kelley Watson and Diane Wells were inseparable as kids. Even when they weren't together, they thought each other's thoughts and worked to get back together. As they grew in to adolescence, they began to establish separate social lives with other friends. As they were more often faced with the choice of activities with each other or their separate friends, the accute anxiety and depression associated with missing a desirable activity grew. One day, Kelley told Diane, "I have this fear of missing out on fun stuff!" Diane responded, "FOMO! You have FOMO!"

Recognition of the term[edit]

The term first caught on with the two girls' families all of whom were very close and enjoyed many festivities and holidays together. When one or two members of the families missed events, they declared that they had FOMO. As the families' members started to talk to their friends about the disorder, the word was adopted by more and more people. The American Psychological Association has yet to take up the disorder. In the age of social media, this fear of missing out has become more intense. Addictions to the Internet can lead to this fomo pathology.[2] In 2011, on april the 14th, it was the "word of the day" of the urban dictionary, where new words are daily added by the internet users.

Communicative nature of the disorder[edit]

How the disorder is obtained is open for debate. Some believe it is a genetic disorder. With a small sample size, it is hard to determine. 100% of all families involved in the disorder have it, but it might be that it is learned; those who have it point out to those around them how many fun activities are being missed, so those nearby start being anxious about missing the good times.