This article acknowledges my son Desmond who explained to me FoMO.
Our connected digital world
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, gives us the possibility to remain in touch ‘24 x 7’, ever present to others. We are now, even more connected to each other in the new digital world. This exposure gives us access to information which is overwhelming! It throws up possibilities for each of us, in the moment, for the day, or ahead. And it is refreshed all the time.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, the more we have the less decisive we are, and know not where to pause and dive. Everything seems inviting, alluring, exciting, just around the corner that we skip, scroll forward, drop a ‘like’ or two, and move on – like restless bees. Ours is a nine second attention span – like the goldfish in the bowl. So much to take in, all at once, and a restlessness lingers. Like a birthday boy, examining all the gift packages long after the guests have left, he hovers over his newly acquired toys. Which one to play with? And ever present the desire and anxiety to move on – enter FoMO.
Stay vigilant to FoMO (or Fear of missing Out) – a social anxiety and a growing phenomenon amongst young adults, but it is present in other ages as well. FoMO is not a temperament, a neuroticism, or a display of extraversion, it is a negative emotion to missing out – an affliction if you may. What was a feeling common in the past, has now a nomenclature to describe it? It is a compulsive concern that one is missing out on an event which has the potential to be satisfying, worsened even further with presence of digital availability and social media as we can now see what ‘others are doing’ out there.
FoMO is present mostly in Young
FoMO ironically exists because as we have increased choices, we have fewer. We stay confused and delay making commitments. FoMO brings an added dimension – what if there were even better choices, I could have availed, which I did not, because I chose to commit too early on. Let me not confirm this get-together with this friend, something more exciting may come up shortly? Don’t say Yes, Yet.
There is a reason for this tentativeness. The paradigm is life is available with infinite possibilities, layers, and substrata of streams of opportunities, infinite rivulets, streams, tributaries of opportunities, all within a dizzy kaleidoscope and within reach to delight. To make an early choice, would be to collapse this rich unfolding bottomless well of opportunity, to remain immobilised to something, to be in a ‘stuckness’. If one does not commit, one lives in this multiverse of opportunities, in an infinite quantum superposition.
However, once a decision is made the wave function collapses and one finds oneself in the desert of single choice. To be in the realm of multiple choice, where anything is possible is denied, once choice is made. Choice anchors you to a path: one of the many that is possible. Choice then is one ‘selection’ and a rejection to all other possibilities. And you better know what you are rejecting, before you do reject, and before you make a choice. Left with this, there seems no choice but to ‘wait it out’, to keep processing and till the final moment. We do recognise we cannot have it all, but can we have the ‘best’ in whatever is available seems the obsession. FoMO speaks to the inner voice of who we are, what we truly wish for ourselves, our own best possibilities to be and to optimise the abundance of life. Can you visualise the impact FoMO has on workplace?
Friends, are you afflicted with FoMO as well, or knows someone who does? Please do comment.