Ralph Metzner, FEI Director of Product Management

Lifestyles propelled by apps, smartphones and social networks have produced a number of interesting and, in some cases, worrying side effects.

Interactions such as texting are thought to stimulate our brains in a manner similar to other addictive activities, producing real concerns that smartphone addiction is changing the way many of us interact with one another. Or, for those of us so entranced by our phones that we’ve tuned out the rest of the world, the way many of us don’t interact with one another.

One product of being constantly wired into digitally-enabled social interactions is FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

FOMO is understood to be a relatively common anxiety that many of us feel about fitting in and belonging. The anxiety is amplified for many of us, particularly younger adults, by social media’s portrayal of the world, causing us to suspect that other peoples’ lives are more interesting, glamorous and just plain fun. Psychology Today recently referenced a study undertaken at Carleton and McGill University which sought to gain a scientific understanding of FOMO.

And, as Wired Magazine recently pointed out, our fear of missing out has been joined by a social variant that many of us experience: FOMO that is focused on the news.

It seems that the rapid pace of current events, along with the 24-hour news cycle that surrounds us, has made it difficult for many of us to stop checking our news feeds. We can’t stop watching the news because we’re afraid of what we might miss.

Particularly if we find ourselves feeling alarmed or threatened by events as they unfold, we may be putting ourselves in a situation of being continually stressed by the news. Consequently, our stress switches can get stuck, and it may become very difficult to get ourselves out of the fight/flight/freeze condition that stress, especially chronic stress, can create.

If you find yourself reaching for your phone and experiencing anxiety afterwards – and this is happening too often during the day (or night) – then it might be time for you to focus on Moving to the Front.

Go for a walk, read a book, head to the gym.

And leave your phone at home.