FO·MO /ˈfōmō/ Noun informal early 21st century: abbreviation of fear of missing out. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
It’s Monday night, 9:30 pm and I’m in Nashville. Next to the Grand Ole’ Opry, I’m walking inside a monstrosity of a hotel named the Gaylord Opryland. Ever been there? Think 2800 rooms, 15 restaurants, indoor boat rides, an on-site golf course and 700,000 square feet of event space. Insane.
Walking back to my room, trying to not get lost, I come across a friend of mine (let’s call him Joe). With a beer in his hand and a look in his eye, Joe asks me:
“Matt, you going to bed?”.
“Yep. Got an early morning working out and then into our event, so it’s my time,” I reply.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Joe blurted out, verbalizing his internal dialogue. That much was very obvious. You could literally see the wheels turning inside his skull. “I need to go to bed too, but I’m afraid of missing out.”
“Missing out on what?” I sincerely asked. Maybe I’d missed something happening.
“Nothing really,” he replied. “But who knows what might happen. I mean, people are still at the bar and I want to be there if something happens. You know, a FOMO kinda thing…”
We talked for another minute and then I headed towards my room, while Joe shuffled the opposite way towards the bar. But the entire walk back to my room, I kept thinking – FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. How does that make sense?
Because the question isn’t “Am I missing out?”. Let me solve that for you. Yes. Yes, you’re missing out. Yes, you’re missing out on something right now. You’re missing out on nearly everything that exists right now, except this tiny little sliver of a moment you’re choosing to be part of. And for every “Yes, I want to be part of that …” decision, you’re exchanging every other alternative. It’s not good or bad in isolation. It’s a fact.
So are you choosing to be here or there? With that person or this? Focused on objective one or two? NOT “Am I missing out?”. Fear of Missing Out – that’s ridiculous.
The next morning I was up early and worked out as planned, ate healthy and was ready to learn by 8. My friend never spoke of working out, ate a not-so-healthy last minute breakfast, was a few minutes late and groggy until noon. This is not a “good or bad” comparison though, with anyone making superior choices. Were we both part of something? Yes. Did we both miss out on something? Yes. Because again, none of those results are good or bad in isolation. But…
I hope Joe found what he wanted in Nashville. I did. And most importantly, I hope neither of us missed out on the wrong thing.