The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a common psychological phenomenon that affects many people in the digital age. FOMO can have serious negative consequences for professionals who work in cleared positions that require a high level of security clearance. FOMO can drive these professionals to use apps or platforms like TikTok or Temu that are run by foreign adversaries that pose a threat to U.S. national security.

What is FOMO?

FOMO is the feeling of anxiety or envy that you may be missing out on something exciting, rewarding, or important that others are experiencing. FOMO can be triggered by social media, where people constantly share their achievements, adventures, and opinions with their online networks. FOMO can also be influenced by the media, which often portrays idealized lifestyles, careers, and relationships that may seem unattainable or unrealistic.

While FOMO may seem harmless or even motivating for some people, it can have serious negative consequences for others, especially those who work in national security. Pressure to keep up with social media’s latest trends, challenges, and popular memes or feeling insecure or inadequate about work or life choices could drive some cleared employees to seek validation or recognition from online peers or influencers. FOMO can also lead some to crave new experiences or opportunities to enhance personal or professional growth.

But Why, China?!

One of the primary sources of FOMO for many people is using apps or platforms that offer various forms of entertainment, communication, or information. However, foreign adversaries, such as China, run some apps or platforms with ulterior motives and agendas. China uses these apps to steal data from users for various purposes, such as:

  • Espionage: China uses the data to spy on users and their organizations and to gain access to sensitive or classified information that could give them an advantage in political, economic, or military matters.
  • Influence: China uses the data to manipulate users and their opinions and to spread misinformation or propaganda that could sway public perception or sentiment in favor of China’s interests or policies.
  • Control: China uses the data to monitor users and their behavior and to censor or suppress any content or activity that could challenge or threaten China’s authority or legitimacy.
  • Profit: China uses the data to monetize users and their preferences and to sell or share the data with other parties that could benefit from it.

What Can We Do?

It is vital for cleared professionals to resist the temptation of FOMO and avoid using apps or platforms that are run by foreign adversaries. Be aware of the potential risks and implications of using these apps or platforms and educate yourself on protecting your privacy and security online.

FOMO is a natural human emotion that can be hard to overcome. However, if you have a security clearance, FOMO can be dangerous and detrimental to U.S. national security. Remember that you are not missing out on anything meaningful or worthwhile by not using these apps or platforms. Better yet, if you avoid the impulse to use them, you’re protecting yourself and your country from potential harm and harm’s way.

If you work in national security, delete TikTok or Temu from your devices immediately. Do not download or use any other apps or platforms that are run by foreign adversaries without proper authorization or approval. If you have any questions or concerns about your security clearance status or online activity, be sure to get in touch with your security officer or supervisor as soon as possible.

Related News

Shane McNeil has a diverse career in the US Intelligence Community, serving in various roles in the military, as a contractor, and as a government civilian. His background includes several combat deployments and service in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), where he applied his skills in assignments such as Counterintelligence Agent, Analyst, and a senior instructor for the Joint Counterintelligence Training Activity. He is a Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholar and has a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from the University of North Dakota. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in National Security Policy at Liberty University, studying the transformative impacts of ubiquitous technology on national defense. All articles written by Mr. McNeil are done in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the United States government.