When I was young, I lived in a rather acronym-free world. Oh, there was UNICEF (which used to confuse me with their cardboard trick-or-treat boxes. For a long time I thought the nickels and dimes I collected on Halloween were to purchase Milky Way candy bars for hungry children in third-world countries.) I faithfully watched CBS, NBC and ABC, never dreaming there would someday be more than that trio of TV stations. For the most part, though, my life was all spelled out.
While the acronym has a long history (the Greek letters spelling fish (IKHTHYS) stood for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior), it didn’t enter popular culture in a meaningful way for centuries. But then, in 1844, there was an article in that delightful publication The Christian’s Monthly Magazine and Universal Review that used the abbreviation SPQR (Latin for the “Senate and People of Rome,” of course! That’s one I myself use on a daily basis!) Still, we weren’t all going around LOLing, or calling Ike and Mamie POTUS and FLOTUS, for Heaven’s sake!
Then along came 21st century communication, dragging me with it, kicking and screaming. Suddenly we all became too lazy to type, or even utter, complete thoughts. And so it was that I learned FOMO, the perfect acronym for my life until very recently. I was consumed by the Fear of Missing Out, whether it be the season finale of Downton Abbey, or the gala holiday party everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to have been invited to. Due to our terribly limited finances when our kids were little, we missed out on Broadway premieres and restaurant openings galore. However, I do believe we were among the first to line up when Proctor and Gamble unveiled the new, even-more-absorbent Ultra Pampers. Sadly, the only extra absorbency we noticed was the way our paychecks were extra-quickly absorbed by the purchase of these Super Diapers.
Some aspects of life I have never had F of MO on. That would include the Wide World of Sports in all its forms, tedious school board meetings, and the Tide Pod Challenge. No regrets Missing Out on pet ownership; indeed, every cat and dog on earth can spot my antipathy miles away, so we mutually agree it’s for the best. Nor am I afraid that I’ve missed out on certain hairstyles and fashion trends, because I know they’ll ALL come back eventually, probably even beehives and culottes.
63 year old me has outgrown her FOMO when it comes to popular song, Keto and the latest Hollywood gossip. I am glued to the current news cycle only because it is such a catastrophe—when things calm down I imagine I will relax my hyper-awareness, and once again forget the names of my state legislators.
The world is missing out on so much these days, right? So let’s not worry about it! It’s pointless to fear that other people are in the know, or having all the fun.
Because trust me. They aren’t.