FOMO Isn’t Social Media’s Fault, It’s Evolution’s
FOMO is a seemingly made-up word that’s actually a very real phenomenon that’s been linked to an increased risk for depression, among other mental health issues. Up until now, social media has taken the brunt of the blame for such a debilitating fear of missing out. However, recent research reveals that FOMO may predate the internet, and be a deeply ingrained aspect of our evolution.
“Anxiety over missing out on important social opportunities is unlikely to be a new cultural phenomenon,” study lead author Adam C. Davis, told PsyPost. “Humans are an ‘ultra-social species’ who express a fundamental need to belong.”
Looking at FOMO through an “evolutionary lens,” Davis and his team surveyed 327 men and women about status-seeking behaviors, competitiveness in attracting members of the opposite sex and their experience with FOMO. They found that the more FOMO people had, the more they sought out status and competed over potential romantic partners. This drive for success suggests that FOMO may be an adaptive trait, but it “does not mean that we think it is morally ‘good’ or beneficial for our mental health and well-being,” Davis warned.
Still, it definitely seems like the survival of the fittest should now be the survival of the FOMOest.