When I was younger, I used too feel I had to go out. I had to meet my friends in bars, parks and squares to have a drink and socialize. I felt this way because I had the feeling that when I was not there, I was missing out. This feeling of not wanting to miss out was so powerful that for some time I argued with my parents in the middle of the night, because they were not agreeing with me going out yet again. This is called puberty.
As the years passed I grew older and a little bit wiser. I started to realize the world is bigger then my own social life. And a lot more aspects of life deserve to be looked at and evaluated. I started reading, following politics and studying. Sometimes I had minor fallbacks to heavily wanting to socialize, I still do. But still the larger world was important to me.
As the years progressed even further, new technology came along. Newspapers turned to online news sites. Hanging in the streets turned to hanging at the house or in bars and discussing news topics, politics, and, OK, the occasional rumors.
This however has sparked a new addiction to not missing out. I am now what you could call: a news junkie. I refresh my news pages every 10 minutes. I have to know what is going on. Preferably as the first of my friends, so I can post it on my Facebook wall. And there you have it. Full circle. I cannot not-refresh my Facebook. Last week I found myself typing “Facebook” instead of Febuary. I do not want to miss out. A certain part of my social life has moved to Facebook. Luckily I am surrounded by a lot of real-world friends, which I speak to on a regular basis. But the urge of going to a bar and not missing out has almost completely gone. Because I have seen what I am not missing out on, on Facebook. Most of the time I am not missing anything. Don’t get me wrong; my friends all lead very interesting colorful lives (most of them are artists). But I don’t have the feeling that I miss out.
Is my constant refreshing of www.nu.nl and www.facebook.com due to the same imbalance in my hormonal state? Or is it just who I am? Is it due to my upbringing? What’s the reason for my constant curiosity of what’s going on in my world?
The thing is that there are researchers that put curiosity right next to fear (James, 1950)(McDougal, 1918). They state that an alligator swims towards its prey on the banks of a river out of curiosity, but as soon as the prey moves it stops to assess danger. In this statement lies something i described earlier and recognize; the fear of missing out. I’m curious what’s happening in the world around me, because I am afraid of missing out.
And when we are on the subject. Is this the reason for the huge success of instant gratification tools like Facebook and twitter? We’re curious, because we are afraid of missing out.
With a click of the mouse we can gratify our anxiety, and know that nothing new has happened within our world. And if it has, at least we were one of the first ones that knew.