FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

I’ll preface this by saying: I HATE the way 2016 teens speak. Acronyms and shortened catch phrases drive be bonkers.

But FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is real.

Anyone who tells you they don’t suffer from FOMO is lying to you, or lying to themselves. It is practically an inherit human condition to want to be involved. Blame it on our obsession to stay “connected” (more on that later) or the evolvement of social media into a frenzy of instant gratification, but the fear of missing out on the next best thing or funny picture or trending topic can overwhelm us.

We submit ourselves to FOMO when we go out and buy the hottest/newest item “just to have it”. When I was 14, I just HAD to have a razor scooter. I barely could ride a bike without training wheels and I was much more of a beach bum/poolside girl than one to ride around the streets, but when every other kid on my block had one I just MADE my parents go get me one. That summer, you weren’t cool without a razor.

We allow FOMO to overtake us when we go out on a Saturday night for 5 drinks instead of 1 because everyone else was at the bar and you didn’t want to be that person who “lamely” went home early. I have an OCD tick about full glasses (I swear, my stories will come in time, I promise) and did two double shots of Crown Apple in about 5 minutes at a party because I could NOT be the only person who didn’t take one (the second one…that isn’t FOMO related). I could NOT miss out on the action…so I put myself, stupidly, in the middle of it.

We forget about our principles and allow FOMO to win when we go out with people whose values, whether they be racist, sexist, or downright disgusting, disagree with ours because you don’t want to be the only person in the lunch room sitting alone. In this case of FOMO the fear of missing out on a chance to maybe be included instead leads to the fear of being labeled a bigot…a fear we put aside to fit in.

All these stories have a common thread. Well, two really. One? FOMO, and the fact that we are powerless to it, arises from a desperate need to fit in. We lose ourselves in the hopes of becoming “one” with society, of meshing, of belonging.

Two? FOMO-driven life goals usually end poorly.

That razor scooter? I flipped it the second day I had it, skinned my entire elbow, and never rode it again.

That Crown Apple night? I puked for nearly 24 hours straight…alone.

That lunch table? I started to hate myself for listening to garbage I didn’t believe in…and other people started to hate me too.

For addicts, FOMO is all too real. When my dad would fail at being sober it was never because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t know how to walk away from the world. How to not be upset with missing out. For children of addicts, FOMO is equally as strong, and maybe just as debilitating. How do you balance the desire to want to be included, to want to NOT miss out, with the pull of 1) being completely submerged already in an atmosphere you hate and 2) having to be a parent to a parent? You don’t. Children of addicts typically either dive head first into the world of alcohol, because it’s the only thing they know and they don’t want to be left out of that first exploratory trek of their friends, or shy away from it so hard that they feel the FOMO constantly as they choose to be mature and sit at home. Either way…FOMO wins.

I admit that I am powerless against FOMO. It plays an intricate part in my life: it drives me to want to be accepted. It steers some of my decisions. I accept that FOMO will always be there. This isn’t a post about defeating FOMO: but just trying to fear it JUST a little less.

-Joanie

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