Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reason #1 behind rise of Social media: The fear of missing out

Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch says that we are obsessed with Twitter updates and Facebook status messages (among other activities related to online obsessions) because 'Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on'.

FOMO -Fear of Missing Out- is a great motivator of human behavior, and I think a crucial key to understanding social software, and why it works the way it does. Many people have studied the game mechanics that keep people collecting things (points, trophies, check-ins, mayorships, kudos). Others have studied how the neurochemistry that keeps us checking Facebook every five minutes is similar to the neurochemistry fueling addiction.

...You're home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever before. And, like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you're participating, not missing out, even when you are.

Well said.

But, a cynical person will say that we fear missing out because we lead hollow lives, where little we do is of any lasting substance. We work to pay the bills. We seek solace in things others are doing. Social media may be the food for the 'despairing' hordes.

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