Carpe FOMO

An early look at a Pacific Standard story that's currently only available to subscribers.
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An early look at a Pacific Standard story that's currently only available to subscribers.
(Photo: Constantin Stanciu/Shutterstock)

(Photo: Constantin Stanciu/Shutterstock)

In this artful defense of the Fear of Missing Out, Chris Colin insists that fretting over your options is part of a life well lived.

Colin's Pacific Standard story is currently available to subscribers and will be posted online on Wednesday, May 20. Until then, an excerpt:

No American should have to choose between kickball and potato printing. But this was the bleak conundrum faced by arrivals at Camp Grounded, a place for grown-ups wishing to unplug for a weekend. It was a bright California morning, the redwoods towered overhead, and a dozen of us stood clustered around a sign listing available electives: capoeira, solar carving, archery, creek walk. So dizzying was the smorgasbord that everyone sailed right through enthusiasm and into anguish.

I watched several campers locate a counselor and deliver a frantic earful. By signing up for one fun activity, they explained, they’d miss out on another.

Preacher-style, the counselor lifted his arms.

“Guys,” he said. “No FOMO. No fear of missing out.”

And then something magical happened. It worked. Simply stamping an acronym on this familiar pang diminished it. We saw that the problem lay not with poorly scheduled events but with ourselves. The campers visibly unclenched, signed up for their activities, and drifted away, some of them amusedly repeating the new word to themselves. I was on hand as a reporter, but I’d felt something too. A whole species of discomfort had been identified and, for the moment, cured.

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