FOMO Mania

Fear of Missing Out…a schizophrenic game of follow the blind leader.

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It’s a common idiomatic expression, “the blind leading the blind.” It can describe life caught up into wild, uncontrollable seizures of speculative, irrational exuberance, not unlike mad swine rushing headlong off the edge of the abyss. Rocks are below.

Homes selling online, sight unseen, eager buyers seduced by the lure of cheap easy money, anywhere, any price, gotta have one. Debt be damned, government has our back. A run on apps promising something for everything, cost no object. Gotta have it. The Roaring ‘20’s have returned.

Dyscognitive Seizure is the medical term, aka a ‘fibro fog.’ It blows in like some greenish ground fog belched up by fetid swamps and Wuhan labs. It envelops the landscape, inhaled by vast herds of pent-up pandemic survivors running heedlessly helter-skelter, missing no opportunity to spend ‘free’ money larded out by a pandering government.

Lately we’re witnessing a collective loss of national consciousness and confusion in a frenzied pursuit of ‘normalcy.’ The highways teem with Teamsters hauling massive cargos of cheap Chinese wampum to sate the appetites of anxious shoppers who fuel the latest rage in turning a buck in ransomware.

Lately in our neck of the woods there’s been an infusion of carpetbaggers. They come with bags of hard cash and loud horns. They gum up our roads with vehicles having frontal license plates that seem to snarl and hog our local hash-brown diners.

Their dialect has a strange high-pitched nasal sound, one that desecrates the long, soft and lazy Southern vowel sounds like ‘welllllll’ and ‘hi ya doooing.’ Their peculiar inflection sounds remarkably like my first violin lesson.

What’s going down here, causing this frenzied fear of missing out? Why all this mass migration, the insatiable ‘nomadism’ that’s running up the costs of everything edible, tillable and livable?

Are we collectively a nation of fugitives, modern-day Joad’s where life is nothing more than a constant pursuit of a pursuit forever? Do visions of the future create our present, everything an interminable chain of longing? Or are we just restless and bored, the easy life too easy?

It’s easy to get caught up in silly or stupid things. Nobody wants to feel ‘left out’ or ‘miss out’ on something. It’s one thing to ‘miss out, but quite another to get ‘cut out’ of some perceived or actual prize. Those are fighting words.

But before condescension and patronization puff up their bloated egos and gather dust and foam for another body, let’s come clean and admit that we have all chased impossible dreams, schemes and wild visions, our manic imaginations often driving us to the brink of lunacy.

There were magical rainbows of possibilities that shimmered through the brilliant sunlight, rainbows with pots filled with golden promises, rainbows whose ends move silently beyond us, slipping through our fingers like a disappearing dream while the pots of promises vanish into the fading light of another common day.

There were days when the raging fires of ambitions consumed us in the pursuit of whatever. Wesley once said, “I’m on fire, and people come to see me burn.” We were on fire then, torching everything in our path, hell-bent on that elusive goal called success.

And if we’re honest, we still are, though perhaps to some lesser extent. Hope is an eternal flame, an artesian well of inspiration, ever moving us onward.

After we’ve numbered our days and shuffled off the shock of seeing how few remain, pretty soon a thin scintilla of sobering reality awakens inside and forbids the demonic madness of our feral conspiracies. Wordsworth’s words ring:

“When I compare

What I have lost with what I have gained,

What I have missed with what attained,

Little room do I find for pride.”

Maybe it’s time to sit back, confess our irrational proclivities, pop another top and let others stoke the fears of missing out. Most of us have had a pretty good run.

But then we might ask ourselves, what is life at any age without occasionally following some wild-hair, frenzied whims, chasing rainbows down blind alleys in lockstep with complicit companions, oblivious to the fallout? Garth sums it up nicely:

 “Like a comet burning bright

Rushin’ headlong in the wind, out where only

Dreams have been

Burnin’ both ends of the night.” (That Summer)

So, Zoom out, text off, leave the lengthy queues to others. Ease quietly out of the hustle. The energy and drama of the mania will subside. Get reacquainted with the easy chair.


Bud Hearn

June 7, 2021