Fear of Missing Out.
In our attempts to keep up with what the technologies demand of us now, we have tapped into and amplified a kind of deep inner tension and primal human fear that seems to sit squarely on our chest, day in and day out. And it is one that we are passing on to our children. That being, the unbearable terror of being left out of the loop. Of not knowing something. Of being “excluded.”
Does it in any way strike you as ironic, or perhaps more to the point, sad, that the more ways that we can know and connect to one another, the more intense the fear of missing something, or of being left out has grown? With our virtually infinite number of ways to gain access to anything and anyone now, there is still the ever-present fear that, if even for a moment you step away from your device, don’t bring it with you, or god forbid don’t answer or check something that comes in, that you will miss something that you cannot afford to miss.
Can you allow yourself to take a step back and feel all the way through you the intensity and the burden that this places on a life? And for a moment, can you imagine the enormous, indelible, and fear-based imprint this is leaving on our children? The anxiety, the vigilance, and the imprisonment that this generates within their growing psyches? And can you extrapolate out to how all of this leads them to believe that there is one recourse, and one recourse only; remain on guard and ever-attached to the demands of the machines. Always. No matter the cost.
No matter the way that it interferes with their ability to think their own thoughts, or to organize their time as they see fit. No matter how this interferes with sleep or with the experience of spending uninterrupted time with another. No matter the way that they, like Pavlov’s dogs, are continually at the beck and call of pings as opposed to the call of their own soul.
Think this one through. Or better yet, as an experiment, step away for a time, and see what happens. And if this feels too extreme for you, begin by asking yourself one simple question; “Realistically speaking, what am I most likely to miss out on, the vast majority of the time?” Another political rant? Another recycling of the same old themes in the news hopped up to make them seem as if they are new and worthy of your attention? A cute emogee? A post about how great and care-free another person’s life is, or how “amazing” their child is? A string of time-wasting, inane, throw-away, or insecure texts? A ridiculous picture or another stupid video that you just have to see, right now? A tweet from someone that you do not, and will not, ever know?
It just goes on and on.
It is time to get real with this one. Especially for our children. Otherwise, both they and we are doomed to suffer through the most obscene, asinine, time-consuming, and soul-sucking experiences that have ever been available to human beings. All of this happening every single day of our lives, and all in the service of never, ever, missing out on a single thing.
Interestingly enough, and despite all of our best efforts to keep up with the output being generated through the screens, we may just find that, in the end, we have indeed missed out. That we were, in fact, justified in our fears around missing something. Only, it will not be what we imagined. It will be something far worse.