Just the be­gin­ning

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

hol­i­day com­par­ing the In­sta­gram shots I’d posted of the villa I was rent­ing with those of a friend who hap­pened to be away at the same time. I am by no means alone in my late-blos­som­ing FOMO.

But for the older gen­er­a­tion, the non-dig­i­tal na­tive, and those of us over 35, FOMO is gen­er­ally re­lated to cul­tural events. You know: the new app ev­ery­one seems to have down­loaded, but you’ve never heard of. The in­cred­i­ble new restau­rant Twit­ter’s fall­ing over it­self to rave about – and you’re clue­less. The high-pro­file feud, the con­tro­ver­sial YouTube video clip, the pod­cast, the play, the hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion... This is what gives us FOMO, the sense that we’re lag­ging be­hind, that we’re out of the con­ver­sa­tion.

The in­ter­net’s ca­pac­ity to both pro­vide a plat­form for, and spread the word on, new cul­tural prop­er­ties means that keep­ing up to date is a 24-hour-a-day job. New ideas bub­ble up ev­ery few hours, and it’s of­ten as if ev­ery­one ex­cept you has al­ready been briefed.

FOMO also means we suf­fer from a new pres­sure that I char­ac­terise as “the tyranny of amaz­ing”. In our ef­forts to be in­cluded in the de­bate, we try to take own­er­ship of the lat­est TV show or pop song or play with hy­per­bole.

We end up hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions such as the fol­low­ing: “Didn’t you think the new show at the Mad­i­nat was amaz­ing?” “I thought it was bril­liant!” “It was the most amaz­ing thing I have ever, ever seen!”

A 40-year-old col­league re­cently told me he found him­self suf­fer­ing hor­ri­bly through a per­for­mance of the much-praised mu­si­cal The Book ofMor­mon when he was in Lon­don re­cently, “be­cause I just didn’t think I was en­joy­ing it as much as ev­ery­one else said they had. I mean, I thought it was pretty good but, hon­estly, how could any­thing ever be as amaz­ing as ev­ery­one had told me that show was go­ing to be?” Where will FOMO end? Ac­cord­ing to Su­san, it won’t. If any­thing, it’ll get more in­tense. “Google Glass [spec­ta­cles through which we are con­stantly con­nected with the in­ter­net] and aug­mented re­al­ity [which an­no­tates our view of the world with in­ter­net-gen­er­ated in­for­ma­tion] will mean we are con­stantly con­nected,” she says.

“If FOMO has be­come worse lately, that’s be­cause of smart­phones and tablets. We are car­ry­ing small com­put­ers with us ev­ery­where, so we’re more con­nected, more of the time. Soon it will seem un­cool and strange not to have aug­mented re­al­ity. Soon we will be con­stantly con­nected.”

I ask Hannah and Jo if their fear of miss­ing out will ever come to an end. “I think I’ll get to the point when FOMO stops, be­cause I’ll be per­fectly happy,” says Jo. “And I think that’ll hap­pen when I’m 30. I used to think it would hap­pen at 25 – but then I tuned 26.”

“I’m be­gin­ning to think, ‘I give up,’” con­cludes Hannah. “There’s no point in FOMO. Be­ing per­fectly happy is just un­re­al­is­tic.”

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