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Do you suffer from FOMO?

October 2nd, 2017

Do you, or someone you know, have a fear of missing out?  It doesn’t matter what it is, but some people have a real fear of missing something and being left out of the conversation.  I see this more and more today in the world of electronics where everyone is connected to everyone else 24 hours a day.

Recently, I was at an orientation event at a local college. There was an incredible amount of excitement in the air, but that was to be expected; after all, it was the very first night of school for all the students attending. Many had moved in a few hours earlier and this was their first big social event. Orientation leaders, student success coaches, and building, residence life, and student affairs staff welcomed the students with cheers, hugs, high fives, fist bumps, and smiles. You couldn’t have scripted a more perfect school opening if you tried. Comments like “this was awesome” and “this is so much fun” could be heard throughout the night. Clearly the event was a hit. What a fantastic way to start the new year. This was just one of many programs planned throughout the next few weeks to welcome students, both new and returning, to campus.

Later in the evening, I was having a conversation with one of the student affairs staff and they expressed concern over their comedy show the following night. Usually, for that show, they end up turning away 200 plus students and they were worried about having a full room this year. After the great turnout they’d just had, I wondered what was the cause of their concern? Their comedy show was up against the season finale of the HBO show Game of Thrones. There is a part of me that gets it, but another part of me that doesn’t understand.  Fear of missing out for me was not being picked as a kid when we played a neighborhood game of football or baseball, or, as I got older, not selected as a member of various organizations. It wasn’t fear of missing the series finale of Seinfeld or in this case, Game of Thrones.

It is hard to argue with the concern of the staff member though, because FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is very real today. Nobody wants to walk back into their residence hall and encounter a whole group of potential friends talking about the season finale that they have no clue about. You absolutely do not want to be the social misfit that has nothing posted on your social media about this life changing moment on the small screen.


If it was just about Game of Thrones and college students, honestly, this wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. But in our business, we are seeing it more and more in all aspects of life. Fall fests in corporate America are being planned around professional baseball schedules and potential playoff runs. Holiday party planners sit down with the football schedule to determine what is the ideal date for the company’s big holiday celebration based on who the local pro or college teams has on their schedule.


This fear of missing out is fueled by a culture that is content to be tethered to the electronic world while allowing the real world to pass them by. If you don’t think this is a problem, drive down almost any road and count the number of drivers that are paying far more attention to the device in their hand than the road. More concerning are the numbers of young people today taking their own lives often because they feel alone or isolated. This leaves us with a few options to solve this problem. We can simply throw up our hands while uttering a phrase that is becoming really tired from overuse - “it is what it is”. Or we can change how we operate to improve the situation.


Here are a few suggestions:


1. Get more people involved in the planning process. There is no need to expand the committee, but have a focus group or 2 to get peoples ideas about what could be done differently, what they like about what you have done in the past, and what they don’t.  


2. A short, well thought out, survey can be impactful as well. Make sure the reader has the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback. In order to do this you need to make sure the questions aren’t too open ended. For example if you simply ask “what would you like to see at the holiday party this year?” you may get a response like, “everyone should get $25,000 bonuses.” Ask instead “we are looking at the following 5 locations for the event this year what do you think?”


3. You can also give them some menu options and ask them to chime in. People who are involved in the decision making process are often more likely to tell their friends about it and attend the event.


4. You also need to advertise. If you haven’t figured it out, you are in a competitive situation and it is getting more competitive everyday. Even for the company holiday party you need to get the word out and make sure that you not only save the date, but grab people’s attention.


5. Make sure your event is FUN and engaging.  Call us for advice on ideas to present to your team.  We have many years of experience in the event business and we don’t mind sharing.


What is the moral of all of this? Flip FOMO on its head, get more people involved in real life experiences and make sure that what they fear missing is your event.


Posted in the category The World According To....

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