Advancements in technology, online communication and social networking have opened up an entirely new dimension of human experience – the alternative reality of cyberspace.

Cyberspace as Extension of Personality

The experience created by modern technology and social networking can be perceived as a separate psychological space. When people launch their computers, write e-mails, update their online profiles and interact with friends and peers via social networks, they often feel as if they are entering a new space of existence. Users start to perceive platforms like Facebook or Twitter as actual physical spaces where they gather with friends and acquaintances or interact with new people.

Consciously or subconsciously, people start to perceive their computers as an extension of their personality – an alternate space that reflects their interests, attitudes and world views. Digital pretense has become an inseparable part of our daily lives and the growing number of social networks and media channels that encourage us to engage and interact are becoming overwhelming.

Social Networks: Weapons of Mass Distraction

Ed Yourdon / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Smartphones and social networks are comparatively new concepts and most of us do remember days without buzzing devices and widespread ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Today, tapping on your phone, while engaging in real-life conversation with someone, is not considered rude, but a part of everyday life. Taking a picture of an accident and sharing it via Instagram before offering assistance is also deemed normal, even necessary protocol.

But do we realize how much these platforms that preach sociability actually handicap us? We are being constantly distracted by the buzzing of a new tweet, the latest Facebook news feed or the number of repin’s we scored on our Pinterest board. People use mobile devices and browse the different social networks they actively participate in during the most unconventional situations. And the local ER is painfully familiar with the consequences of people who thought that texting while driving was a good idea.

The habit of checking our social networking profiles too often appears to exhibit physiological effects – we interpret even the slightest vibration as a sign of notification and instinctively reach out to our devices.

 FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

Mr. T in DC / People Photos / CC BY-ND

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is beginning to be treated as a genuine psychological disorder brought on by advancements in technology, and the amount of choice available to individuals these days. But is it really a psychological disorder? Hardly.

FOMO has its social complications – people tending to text while driving or constantly checking their Twitter stream and Facebook updates during a social event – actions all dictated from the fear of missing out on something more interesting or entertaining. In actuality, life happens, while you wait for your smartphone to buzz, and the more obsessed people get with their virtual selves, the worse their offline social life will be.

Part of the problem is that our relationship with technology is still in its infancy – we might find it hard to recall times when we were active participants in social events without Facebook or Google+ alerts, but these times did exist not too long ago. We still don’t know how to interact meaningfully with modern technology and we get easily obsessed with every new innovation. You are skeptical? Just count how many times you checked your e-mail, Twitter interactions, Facebook notifications and any other social network you are actively participating in.

Cure for FOMO Addiction

The obsession with modern technology and social networking is inevitable – let’s face it, social networks are just plain awesome. And because FOMO is not a disease per se, therefore there is no particular cure. There are, of course, online “medications” that could definitely improve the current state of your fear of missing out.

The core issue with FOMO is the overwhelming amount of constantly updated information on social networks. You need to access each and every one of them individually for the latest updates. But let’s face it, are you really interested in what all your 400 friends on Facebook have to say or share? Or do you really care about every tweet from the 700 people you follow on Twitter? Probably not.

Aggregation is getting more and more popular these days for that particular reason –  we generally have too many (friends, followers etc.), certainly more than we need. Using MyLife.com for “treating” successfully your FOMO symptoms is an option, if you are really struggling to keep up with the overwhelming stream of data coming your way. MyLife.com motto says “Connecting everyone. All in one place.” – true story.

MyLife.com is a social networking service that aggregates all your existing social networks as well as your e-mail address. That way you can keep up with everything and everyone in one place. The platform uses algorithms that arrange the priority of your feed –  let’s say that from all the 400 friends you have on Facebook, there are 20 that you interact with regularly and maybe 30 other pages you frequently share content from or comment. MyLife.com will aggregate those as top priority.

So is there a cure for FOMO? There is no such thing, and certainly no need to seek one. A tool that will help you prioritize your never ending stream of social data and a platform that will allow you to access it all in one place is all you need in order to organize your overwhelming social networking experience.

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