Among all troubles generated by modern life, I do believe none of them can influence us on the daily basis as FOMO can. What is FOMO? For a start it is a disgusting acronym meaning Fear of Missing out, this very common affection making us projecting mentally ourselves to another place where something else is happening than where we are right now. Disconnecting us in the meantime from what is happening to us. FOMO is helped for that by its best ally: connected smartphone.
Partner movie of today: What if by Michael Dowse, best comedy about love and FOMO
I gave in Internet connection out of home not such a long time ago, 2 months actually, the same way I gave in smartphone itself, more or less a year and half ago, in preparation for my travel in Brazil. It was a fine excuse, I needed something to keep contact with family while not having to carry a computer with me. I discovered Whatsapp, Messenger, it was perfect. For that matter, going back to my old phone without Internet, apps or touch-sensitive screen seems impossible now, once you get to taste technology. Then thanks to programmed obsolescence, consumption is continuing.
Same with Internet. I was just happy to catch Wifi networks from time to time until this habit turned out to be a determinant factor for the breakup of my last very chaotic long-distance relationship. Even outside of it, some people were starting to get bothered by the fact they couldn’t contact me through Whatsapp for finding each other in the street. So I decided to start getting it, without for the moment getting unlimited use but I am confident enough that it will come at some point.
That being said, FOMO didn’t wait for a smartphone or Whatsapp to come into my life to manifest itself. I always felt this crazy hunger deep inside my guts, the one that screams “you need to see them all, read them all, and listen to them all!” As a kid and early teenager, there was already way too much books and fascinating stories, music and bands calling for my attention, too many interesting topics. But then Internet came along and messed it up even more.
I had this thought the other day, while walking around the History museum of the country in Europe having ones of the most terrible one, that there was a time when it was theoretically possible to know everything, while printing still didn’t exist and science still being in starting blocks, it was possible for a few rich and great thinkers to embrace the whole knowledge of their times, to have red all the books ever written. This thought troubles me deeply. So there was actually a time when this notion didn’t even have any sense?
It is quite a paradox and at the same time makes total sense than FOMO as a notion appeared with Internet and especially social networks. Knowing the immensity of World Wide Web, we shouldn’t even think of it, even tend to it, this is how huge this is. And still.
Mona Chollet, a Swiss journalist and writer is talking about it this way (the best, usually) (I’m a big fan) :
“Then I inscribed myself on Facebook, then Twitter, then Pinterest, I got an RSS reader, than allows you to get all articles that interest you and classify them by topics. From that moment, it was a bit like, after years remaining safely on the shore, just hooking up information by coincidence almost, a giant hand suddenly emerged and grabbed me to make me drown.
It was the end of my little regular promenades over a few websites, always same ones: link recommendation system is propelling me from one side until the other of the cyberspace, like the Baron of Münchhausen on his canon ball. And impossible to get away from it just by saying that this is a loss of time, pointless or inept preoccupation: most of the time, no matter with how much disdain it is good to talk about it, if you place your net at the right spot, it is interesting – and this is truly the worst.”
We could only spend our time on it, reading, searching and jumping around from link to link. It is happening sometimes to me, as to most of people I guess, to fall in a sort of hypnotic trance while scrolling over Facebook, absorbed during way too much time by all I see, then to suddenly wake up, dumbfounded when I check the time that had passed without me noticing. Often, this exploration is becoming more morbid than joyful, because we cannot ignore all atrocities happening in the world, all the insidious wildness in ratios of power we could also experiment, everything is coming from everywhere and I don’t always know how to face it. I remain prostrated, incapable of looking somewhere else, even feeling guilty to even want to but still able to have nightmares about it.
But even worse than this knowledge thirst aroused by Internet, there is also the possibility to see what is happening everywhere, all the time. When I say everywhere this time, this is about our own geographical scale this time, in the city we live in. The excellent Boulet made a note about it recently (go, it’s cool) where he said about himself:
“I was twenty in 1995 and we would often get bored to death. I think I met with more than half on my friends on the Internet. Thanks to computers, cellphones and social media, I meet ten times more people and I see ten times more stuff.”
He is showing pretty well all the joy it can bring us and it is nice also to see someone being so optimistic about it (he is also explaining why we tend to be so dependent of it and so afraid at the same time). But actually this is where FOMO gets its best expression space.
Although sometimes everything just falls right
How to choose? We could see everything! We could do it all! This concert looks so great but wouldn’t this party be better? What about this unique movie projection? Or this random walk? But actually we are tired so it would be better to stay at home watching a movie, right? Let’s see which movie. Ha yes they are all here, for free. I heard if this one, someone told me this one was so amazing… cycle never ends.
And even when we do have a concrete plan, an hour, people waiting for us, it is always coming, this last minute message proposing an amazing plan and we get to wonder, what if I go there first then there, I will arrive a bit late but it could work… At the end we run all over, we can become impolite cancelers and at the end we regret than the thought of how great somewhere else would be wasted a bit the right here right now moment.
And what to say about, even if I will not develop, love nowadays? How could we stay put for 5 seconds to try to know someone when we can swipe on the right at the first sign of trouble? And why keep talking to someone when so much are to discover? How to limit ourselves? Why limiting ourselves? We lose in intimacy what we gain in fantasy, price is still quite heavy.
What if…? What if… ? The only thing these alternative scenarios do better than our reality is precisely their imaginary side, allowing all types of projections, all fantasies.
As a Reddit user would say though, “Grass is not greener elsewhere, it is greener where you water it.”
It is inspiring, it is true we run too much… What about smelling roses perfume? We must calm down, breathe, zen, chakras, whatever… There is the yoga session to go still. Wait, I told X we would go for a glass at the same time. Plus there is this exhibition that seems so great, maybe we could…
Ok, still working on it.