Explained: What Modi Meant By ‘FOMO’ And Other Internet Abbreviations And How To Collect Them

This week, the popular Internet slang ‘FOMO’, short for ‘fear of missing out’, was used by an unusual speaker: the Prime Minister of India.

Narendra Modi was giving a joint speech with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the India-Denmark Business Forum on the sidelines of the second India-Nordic Summit in Copenhagen. The official handle to the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted: “These days the term FOMO or ‘fear of missing out’ is gaining traction on social media. Looking at India’s reforms and investment opportunities, I can say that those who don’t invest in our nation will certainly miss out – PM @narendramodi in Copenhagen.”

What is ‘FOMO’?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes ‘FOMO’ as the “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere, often triggered by posts seen on social media”.

In their 2021 research paper ‘Fear of Missing Out: A Brief Overview of Origin, Theoretical Underpinnings, and Relationship to Mental Health’, authors Mayank Gupta and Aditya Sharma wrote that “FoMO is characterized by the desire to be continuously connected with what others are doing.”

Although the “fear of missing out” phenomenon was identified sometime in the late 1990s by a brand strategist named Dan Herman, the expression wasn’t popularized until 2004 by Patrick J. McGinnis, an American venture capitalist.

In their 2016 article titled ‘Fear of missing out, urge to touch, anxiety and depression are linked to problematic smartphone use’,
Jon D Elhai, Jason C Levine, Robert D Dvorak, and Brian J Hall noted that “problematic smartphone use was more related to fear of missing out, depression (in reverse), and the need to touch.”

Gupta and Sharma wrote that “The social aspect of FoMO could be posited as relating to the need to belong and the formation of strong and stable interpersonal relationships.”

And what is meant by ‘Internet jargon’?

Since originating in the early days of the Internet, Internet slang or Internet abbreviations have been developing steadily and rapidly. Over time, the appearance of these words and expressions in the vocabulary, especially of users who spend a lot of time on social networking services and similar online platforms, has become more frequent. And as our digital lives and personalities have become increasingly intertwined with real ones, this language of the Internet has seeped into everyday speech.

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A 2015 BBC report traced the origins of some of the earliest internet slang back to the mid-1980s, when a developer in Canada claimed to have used “LOL” in a chat room. “Laughing out loud” is one of the most widely used and easily recognizable internet slang words, and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.

So are “BTW” (“by the way”), “TFW” (“that feeling when”), and “CUL8R” (“see you later”), the latter being more common during the early days of SMS.

Punctuation marks play an important role in the language of Internet slang: common punctuation marks used to express feelings or emotions include, for example, a series of periods (‘…….’) and a series of pound signs. exclamation mark (‘!!! !!!!!!!’), as well as a combination of question marks and exclamation marks (‘?!?!?!?!’).

In 2014, following a freedom of information request, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released an 80-page list of Internet slang words it had compiled to help agency agents navigate the changing world of Internetspeak. But a Fast Company report published earlier this year indicated that the list had become largely irrelevant, an indication of how quickly language is developing.

It is often not so much the creation of new words as it is the appropriation of existing words and phrases, giving them new identities and meanings on the Internet. Researchers have argued that the development of earlier technologies such as radio, television, and the telephone also spawned their own set of jargon. An example: the phrase “the pilot radioed the control room” produced the verb “radioó” which originated in the technology itself.


How can you learn Internet slang?

You have to spend a lot of time on the internet, of course, and you have to be, as active social media users say, ‘ITK’ or ‘in the know’. New words first become cool in certain spaces, and having a wide crawl sweep helps, as does a circle of users who are ‘with it’ on the internet. New expressions and connotations continue to emerge, and older ones become ‘uncool’.

For those just starting out, Kaspersky has a helpful Beginner’s Guide to Internet Slang. Another resource that is constantly being updated is urban dictionarya crowdsourced online dictionary specifically to help decode slang words and phrases.

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