Forget FoMO: In Business Its FoBIA
I’m pretty hip, cool, groovy and with it, most of the time. Having said that, I think I just proved otherwise by using those expressions. Maybe I’m mad, bad and trending. Whatevs the case I’m totes going to go ahead with this post.
Recently, I happened across an article about FoMO, telling me I was missing out. Naturally, it reeled me in, I mean if I was missing out, I couldn’t knowingly continue to miss out on what I was missing out on. Turns out I was missing out on knowing what FoMo meant. For the equally
uniniated hip, cool and groovy FoMo is:
Defined as a fear of one’s social standing or how one is perceived among peers, and a need to constantly know what is happening and what others are doing, FoMO is most prevalent in people aged 16 to 35.
FoMo is driven by our social media, constantly connected culture. All the information about what your friends, rivals and social set are up all just a click of a button away. This is apparently creating a narcissistic, anxious and sleep deprived Gen Y. However, as the article points out it’s not all bad, FoMO may actually make you strive to better yourself. All that comparison, might just light a fire in your belly and give you a way forward.
How 2013 is this though?
These human traits have existed ever since the Garden of Eden and when you know who was a boy. They have certainly existed in the workplace ever since I was a girl. Social media just aggregates the information and delivers it in a way where actual human to human contact is minimised. It hangs the hubris out there for all the world to see, but can be a wonderful outlet for compassion, connection and achievement. I’m keen on social media, but understand the personal responsibility that comes with its use.
The reality is we all buy into FoMO to some degree or another – whether it’s gossiping over the back fence, rubber necking our way past a car accident or following our favourite celebrity on Twitter. It is not just the purview of 16 to 35 year olds. They may just lay claim to social media FoMo.
Which brings me back to the business world. In the past couple of weeks, I have had cause to observe just how anxious people get when they are not tethered to their smartphones or other technology devices. At every business meeting I have had over the past fortnight people have laid their mobile devices on the table before them. Whilst they may have been on silent, at least a couple of them continued to check emails coming in. One even responded and made a call totally unrelated to the topic of the meeting at hand. What message does this send to the people in the meeting? At a seminar, half the participants sat phone in hand, scrolling away on their screens.
Is business on the phone really that pressing? Are we really that indispensible that we can’t focus on one thing solely for 1 hour? Or that we can’t switch off after hours?
Or are we a creating a business culture of FoBIA?
FoBIA is a term I have coined to mean Fear of Being Irrelevant, Already.
It seems that the need to create the perception that we are important or busy by remaining tethered to our communication devices abounds. It also looks good to an audience if you are constantly checking in, it means you must be important. Check your emails at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm or you might miss out on a piece of information that you could have picked up in the morning *.
But how much of this is real business need, and how much of this is fear and patch protection? How much is posturing?
Worse still, is this becoming a habit?
I refuse to believe that the advent of Web 2.0 forces us to redfine the meaning of ‘need to know’ and respectful person to person communication. Respect is the bottom line for all interactions, online, offline or in outer space and committing your attention is a part of that.
True leadership and ability to influence begins with making other people feel valued. The size of one’s inbox or phone is no measure of business prowess.
So to all you legends in your own inboxes, I say no need for FoBIA and forget FoMO. Human interaction will enrich your life, information in and of itself will not.
* Legitimate after hours use is not included in this statement, for example working on a time critical or global transaction where communication with other time zones are necessary.
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