Updated Sunday,3September2023-01:47

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"I have a hard time saying no to a plan, even if I don't feel like it, because if I don't go I feel like I'll miss an important moment, and even that they will forget about me." Giovana Pergentino has FOMO, which stands for "fear of missing out." It is a type of social anxiety that causes fear of missing out. The term began to be used in 2010, and although it is not recognized by the RAE, it does appear in dictionaries such as Cambridge. It is defined as a feeling of worry caused by being able to miss exciting events that other people will attend, especially caused by things they see on social networks.

Giovana Pergentino, or Gio as she likes to be called, is 23 years old, Brazilian and currently lives in Barcelona. "I'm always trying to make plans, a weekend alone at home is a wasted weekend. Also, if I don't attend, I'll be thinking about what other people will be doing without me, and how much fun they must be having."

He can not stop doing activities, due to that fear he has of missing the moment, but this is not the only thing. All these plans have to be exposed in social networks to show (you) are not really losing anything, and that your life is as full as others show. The low self-esteem you carry is alleviated when you post. FOMO causes being continuously glued to the mobile, not only to upload one's own content, but to "monitor" others, so that no plan is missed. "When I don't go somewhere, and then I see Instagram stories, I have a hard time, and I have a sense of loss."

Taking photos thinking that they will remain as memories is an idea of past times, now the present matters, but not to enjoy it, but to expose it. The photo is no longer for the album that will be shown to future children, the photos are exclusively for all those followers who are often not known, or with whom little more than a beer has been shared on a nightstand or a night out. Summer is the perfect time to expose everything "beautiful and ideal" that is life, since it is the time of year when more content related to leisure and the social field is shared. This exhibition is becoming more normalized every day, and for those who suffer from FOMO it is their undoing. It is a perfect Molotov cocktail to exploit your fear.

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  • Writing: QUICO ALSEDO Madrid

At school for children addicted to technology: "I couldn't go to class, I didn't leave my room anymore, I wanted to kill myself..."


Fear and disgust of life: this is how we have become an all-phobic society


Fear and disgust of life: this is how we have become an all-phobic society

Giovana acknowledges that her anxiety increases during the summer. Entering social networks during these months is to see a feast: meals in beach bars, bottles on the beach, boat parties, trips ... And all these plans accompanied by many people, and a supposed happiness. Adriana Esteban, a psychologist at the Centta Institute, explains that during this season social anxiety tends to increase because having more time, the consumption of social networks is greater. You also have more opportunity to show the image you want to share of yourself. "You live with greater pressure because of the need to please others."

"FOMO Syndrome is not yet part of any diagnostic category in psychology and psychiatry manuals," says Adriana Esteban. However, it indicates that mental health professionals recognize this pathology through a set of symptoms: dependence on social networks, increased virtual relationships, low self-esteem and fear of not feeling belonging to a group.

Giovana usually accepts all the proposals she receives: "Even if I'm not so friends with that group of people or I don't like the place they're going to." Every time he carries out an activity, he attests to it on social networks: "At least I upload a photo that shows that I am in that place or with those people." For people with FOMO the exposure in networks of what they are doing is a self-imposed condition, and of course, more in summer. "Everything must be published to show others a specific lifestyle, with the aim of reinforcing a value that depends on the gaze of the other," says the psychologist of the Centta Institute.

"We all, in a normal and habitual way, tend to compare ourselves with others," explains Guillermo Fouce, psychologist, and president of the Psychology Without Borders Foundation. What happens in people with FOMO is that due to their low self-esteem this comparison skyrockets, and they think that "the lives of others are better than theirs, because they idealize what they see." There is a hyperconnection that "causes ephemeral relationships, very shallow, which leads to a state of anxiety and loneliness, although they are constantly related to others."

In some cases there is an alteration of the sleep pattern due to excessive use of the phone. "They sacrifice hours because the time they spend sleeping is time that others are exposing content and they cannot 'fall behind', as if it were an endless race." In the end, there is a significant deterioration in the quality of interactions outside the virtual world. They isolate themselves from the family and remain in a state of anger and anger when they are not interacting virtually.

The work and school sphere are also altered. There is "a decrease in motivation because they stop being themselves to be what others want or expect. They live to publish everything they do, not to pay attention or enjoy the activities they do, because they are not interested in living them but showing them, "emphasizes psychologist Esteban.

During 2021 Gio began going to therapy, and that's where he realized that "this type of behavior was not normal." "A lot of times I'm aware I'm having FOMO and yet I ignore it, because the anxiety of missing the moment speaks louder." He confesses that there are also situations in which he does not realize until the day after he accepted a plan "for pure FOMO". Sometimes she regrets having gone out, since she recognizes that she does it without desire: "I like it when it rains, so I can blame the rain for not going out for it, and I stay calmer." She has also gone out on occasions when she was sick: "I have gone to party even with severe tonsillitis because I was not able to miss the moment." He does not currently attend the psychological sessions, but intends to return. "In therapy I was able to understand my tendency to want to be part of a group and to follow the social norms imposed on us."


This syndrome occurs mainly among adolescents and young people. "They are the ones who spend the most time on the networks and the ones who have the least tools to manage their emotions," says Adriana Esteban. "It is the stage of the life cycle in which they build their own identity, and do not present a solid self-esteem that can cope with the emotional impact that emerges from virtual interactions. They become the main victims of this new technological era."

The new generations are born with a mobile under their arm, their parents put it from small with music or drawings to entertain themselves. This causes the use of these devices to be introduced into everyday life as another activity. Its use is excessively normalized. "Adolescents are the group most reluctant to accept that this is a problem," says Vanesa Fernández, psychologist and professor at the Complutense University. "Adults have lived in a world where they didn't exist on the networks, and they can come to understand what is happening to them. But teenagers have a hard time because they don't understand what the problem is, they see it as a pattern of life."

"You see more and more how they suffer if they are not aware." The cases of FOMO grow, because "erroneously the age at which the mobile phone is given to children is being advanced too much, and the problem is decreasing in age of diagnosis," emphasizes Vanesa Fernández. "When you give a device like a mobile phone to a person who does not have the ability to control their impulses, or to interpret the images they see through social networks, disorders of all kinds begin to appear, including FOMO."

FOMO is preventable. "Parents should not turn a blind eye, and be aware that their 12-13 year old is not prepared," says Vanesa Fernández. "Until 15-16 years is not time, what happens is that if you totally remove children from the networks you isolate them," so parents must exercise control over the hours spent in them. "I see more and more in the consultation children with low self-esteem, wanting to have ideal lives, with expectations that do not exist, with feelings that their life is shit and a failure because they do not know how to interpret the messages."

"To solve the problem, the first thing is to become aware of it, so that people go to therapy as soon as possible," says psychologist Fernández. Therefore, we work with a positive behavioral therapy that is aimed at "the patient is able to control anxiety levels, and thus control the impulses that lead him to be constantly looking for others to do." "In the same way, the problems of irritability, anger, low self-esteem and low mood that patients with FOMO usually have are worked on," explains the psychology professor.

"My message to all of them is to ask for help from a psychology professional so that he can accompany them to understand that their behaviors are derived from fear, and that they act reinforcing this mechanism: the fear of missing something leads them to be constantly connected, finally losing the most valuable. I would remind them that real life is one that is not published," concludes Adriana Fernández.

  • Adolescents
  • Psychology