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What do FOMO and FOGO mean?

You may have heard the phrases “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO) and “Fear Of Going Out” (FOGO) regularly in conversation, especially as it relates to the younger generation. What does it all mean? FOMO and FOGO are fear-driven experiences that are usually labeled by the younger generation, and are packaged in bursts of acronym-style language to quickly express how someone is feeling, usually on a social media platform.  In actuality, the meanings behind these phrases are truly common topics that arise in my work with young adults here in New York City.  The fact that these very real fears have evolved into commonplace everyday language, and are often used as #hashtags in the social media world, show us that there are some pertinent issues impacting young adults in a constantly changing, pressurized, and fast-paced reality.

FOMO often has to do with a strong desire for social acceptance amongst peers, i.e. What does it mean if I miss out on an event with friends or colleagues?  The fear can be so overwhelming, that it may cause some to overcompensate and risk losing their sense of self.  Young adults may compromise their priorities and identities just for the sake of “fitting in.” Often, FOMO has to do with themes related to one’s self-esteem and self-worth.

FOGO often has to do with insecurity related to what other people might think, and concern over how they might perceive or judge you, i.e. How will everyone view me when they see me at this party?  The fear of a negative experience can be so paralyzing, that it may cause some to actually isolate and withdraw into their own shell, sometimes sabotaging the experience of going out.  Often, FOGO has to do with themes related to one’s self-confidence and self-acceptance.

Both FOMO and FOGO appear to result from an abundance of anxiety at their core.  If you feel you fall into this category, you might feel excessively worried, nervous, or may experience an increase and intensity of swirling thoughts related to the fear of missing out, or going out.  Anxiety related to how others may or may not judge you, may or may not like you, may or may not accept you, can stem from a challenging inner monologue that is tied up in doubt and uncertainty.

FOMO and FOGO can be addressed and tempered by exploring the following:

1) Identification (that the fear exists)
2) Definition (what the fear means for you personally)
3) Impact Assessment (delving deeper into how these fears affect you mentally, emotionally, physically)
4) Action (exploring steps to take in addressing these fears)

Using elements of a stages-of-change model in a therapeutic context as described above can help empower young people to make positive changes in learning how to overcome these very difficult, but real, situations. Have any comments or questions about FOMO or FOGO? Please reach out to share!

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