Is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) a Common Feature of Our Culture?

by - March 19, 2018

arts and entertainment, movies, films, pop culture, opinion piece, fear of missing out, FOMO, millenials, online magazine, shine through you

Somehow due to a lapse of judgement I ended up watching Song to Song on a Friday night. I can't call myself a fan of Terrance Malick's work, but I did watch The Tree of Life a few years ago and enjoyed its ease, so I decided to give the star-studded Song to Song a go.

The questionable play with camera lenses and lack of comprehensible plot aside, the movie centres on the entangled lives of four polarizing individuals in the music industry and their relationships, starring Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman among a few other famous names. I found Faye, portrayed by Rooney Mara, the most compelling narrator of the ensemble and followed her journey through youth, life and relationships.

She's young, experiences-driven, living life to the fullest in her search to discover what love really means, and what happiness feels like. Her life turns into a string of messy and complicated experiences that are somehow normal in our youthful journey of finding ourselves. Yet we inevitably end up hurting someone in this process and most often this includes ourselves. Faye is "running around trying to be somebody..." like most of us figuring out adulthood, we're running between one thing and another, always on the lookout for the next experience, forgetting to pause for a moment.

Her travels through moments and people are more or less guided by her fear of choosing, deciding and committing. She doesn't feel the need to - she's young and very much freedom-loving, she doesn't want to live with the clinging awareness that she could be missing out on something that is better than what she experiences now.

To Faye, life is not enough if she doesn't grab it and fill herself with it, afraid to miss out she often makes rushed, often regrettable decisions and felt the pain of the consequences. Always sensation-seeking in order to feel more and have more, she ends up in a spiral of lies and emotions that left her more confused than ever, causing her to doubt herself as a person. "I am not who I thought I was. Am I a good person? Do I want to be?" she asks herself near the end of the movie. A question many of us have asked ourselves at least once in our lives.

Is the fear of missing out (FOMO) a real phenomenon or is it reinforced by our culture? Do we feel afraid that we won't feel alive if we don't dive into every experience presented to us? I can't help, but wonder - is it the fear of missing out or is it the fear of regret that we won't be able to sample everything that life has to offer? Can you truly miss out on something you don't really have and you don't really know?

Have you ever felt the fear of missing out? What does living life to the fullest mean to you? Feel free to share your thoughts with us - we'd love to hear from you!

In Arts & Entertainment we will try to turn off our hard-working brains and deal with the less-exhausting prospect of our leisure time. Here we will talk about all things visual: new exhibitions, books and movies that made or failed to make an impression and also discuss what example the popular culture and our society give us - when is healthy to follow it and when to say enough.

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