Not since the swine flu have I heard of so many people being affected by a single condition. Like swine flu, may not be new, but it is certainly has hit the nation (and most recently Austin, TX) in a big way. Everywhere I turn I see those who are clearly suffering from the symptoms of FOMO.

How do you know if you have it? Well, here are some of the classic warning signs:

What? You think you have it too? Well if you have a pulse and a cell phone with a web connection, chances are you do. So what is this horrible condition that I’m speaking of? What is FOMO?

Clinically speaking, FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out. And here at SxSW, FOMO is running rampant.

The bad news? There is no cure. No amount Facebook updates, retweets or party invites can cure you – they actually make it worse. As I mention in Dave Barger from ’s podcast, FOMO only increases the more you are connected.

Think about it, when you are plugged in 24/7 you start realizing how much stuff you are missing. Because there is no way to be EVERYWHERE at once (even through the web).

Credit: Screencast.com

Credit: Screencast.com

The good news is that sometimes FOMO does naturally subside.

This FOMO reduction can be brought on by a general overload from life. Times when you just need to shut off. It can also come about through actual illness. You know, those times when people who are usually all over the socialsphere suddenly vanish into a cloud of Kleenex and NyQuil.

It’s times like those when you realize that you don’t actually NEED to be connected at all the time. The world really does keep spinning if you shut off for a while. Man can live on rerun episodes of House alone.

But this is when the real marketing challenge emerges. How do we as marketers re-infect people with FOMO?  How do we get them to reconnect?

I bet I surprised you with that one. I bet you thought this whole post was leading up to how to BE one of those things people don’t want to miss out on. Nope. Not so. That part is the cake-walk. Connecting to people who want what we’re selling is the easy parts. That’s just simple game mechanics. Getting them to turn back on is the challenge I’m posing to you.

So be honest, do YOU have FOMO?