Brian Fountain, one of the creators of a new app called CouchCachet, has a name for an issue that is very near and dear to our tech-crazy world: FOMO. In other words, Fear Of Missing Out. Is it in the directory of officially recognized mental disorders? No. Do many of your friends and family (or maybe even you) suffer from it? Quite possibly yes. That’s why Fountain and his friends have created a brand new app to help people with FOMO cope. CouchCachet is a somewhat serious and somewhat humorous new tool that people who don’t want to appear ‘lame’ can take advantage of to look busier and more social than they really are.
If you really just want to kick back on the sofa this weekend with your favorite TV shows and junk food, but fear the negative backlash of not being seen out on the town, hanging with friends, or visiting new local hot spots, CouchCachet may be right for you. The app will automatically check you into a variety of places more interesting than your couch (or bed if you don’t even make it past 11pm this Friday) via Foursquare and Twitter. To get started, you just have to visit CouchCachet’s website and connect your Foursquare account. Set your home address, and then the next time you check into your home, CouchCachet will come up with several different selections of activities from which to choose. Select your favorite, then let the app start checking you in, posting pictures, and tweeting about the fun you’re having ‘out on the town.’ From the comfort of your couch.
Even if you aren’t using CouchCachet, chances are good that you or your friends are striving to look as hip and social as possible online. Everyone around us is competing for the cutest pictures, coolest parties, and most exciting weekend. After all, nobody wants to look like they are being left out, and many of us do have a deep-seated worry that we might be missing out on something fun we could be doing. But that doesn’t mean that every minute of every day has to be full of interactions and parties and exclusive events. After all, your friends are probably spending more time relaxing and being ‘uncool’ than they’d like you to think.
Admittedly the creators of this app aren’t taking their creation 100% seriously; they still expect you to go out when you like, and have a night in when you want to. But these kinds of social tools make us wonder: is this the direction social media is going? Relying on tools like CouchCachet to mold us into a stereotype and post things we might not even say in real life? Are we really so desperate to fit in and look cool that we have to have an app fill up our social calendar with pictures we didn’t take and places we didn’t visit? And if so, how will we ever be able to trust that our friends really did any of the things they said they did? We’ll just have to actually hang out with them to make sure – and maybe that’s a good thing.