FOMO, FOLO, FONK
The rise of technology has been responsible for the creation of new words and new acronyms. Selfie, phablet, bitcoin, BYOD (bring your own device), and many more neologisms now form part of the Oxford Dictionary. Unfortunately, it has also contributed to the development of new psychological conditions. A few years ago, there was no need to go on a digital detox or get help for anxiety or stress related to FOMO, FOLO, or FONK.
FOMO, FOLO, and FONK are all “disorders” associated with the internet of things, which have an impact on our physical, emotional and mental health. FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’. Posts seen on social media platforms are often the cause of this feeling. People who suffer from FOMO, either commit to too many engagements and break their promises all the time, or they do not make any commitments as they fear that they will lose out on experiences that would be more satisfying or pleasurable.
The opposite to FOMO is JOMO, which is Joy of Missing Out. This manifests as a person spending too much time online versus enjoying and celebrating life and having real-life and holistic human experiences.
FOLO, or Fear of Living Offline is a new reality where increasingly people are feeling devalued and uncomfortable when they are offline and not continuously connected with peers and friends in the virtual world. They battle to live in the real world. When you suffer from FOLO, you think that all your experiences must be validated or stamped by social media such as Instagram, or else you are not living. It even feels as if an event or specific experiences did not happen if they did not take place in cyberspace.
Another type of FOLO, or Fear of Losing Out, is an advanced form of Fear of Missing Out. In Singapore it is called the “Kiasu” syndrome. “You feel that you have not achieved success in your life, or life has passed you by. Others you know appear to be rich happy and fulfilled, whereas you are staring at a Game Over screen”.
FONK, or the Fear of Not Knowing, is also called Agnosiophobia. Living in a connected world, we feel that we must know what is happening every minute of the day. If they don’t know what is going on, FONK suffers become sweaty, stressed and anxious.
All these “afflictions” impact our psychological well-being and results in pessimism, stress, unfulfilled and depression.