Fear of Missing Out by Patrick McGinnis

Fear of Missing Out by Patrick McGinnis is a book I’ve always needed – and most likely, you do too. In it, he describes the concepts of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), FOBO (Fear of a Better Option) and their evil combined force, FODA (Fear of Doing Anything), as well as how to combat them in your own life to be more decisive and independent of social manipulation.

McGinnis first identified FOMO and FOBO back in the early 2000s (though they date back to the earliest days of human history), but he since observed them turning into an epidemic as social media and internet technology became widespread. The wealth of options and opportunities that we see every day on our phone screens can be paralyzing, leading us to feel left out, run ourselves ragged trying not to miss anything, and to constantly seek that ‘perfect’ choice. With this detailed examination of the phenomena, their underlying causes, and the tools at our disposal, he seeks to give the reader back the power to make choices that actually reflect their values and desires instead of reflecting what they’ve been told to want (or what others want).

Perhaps the most important insight McGinnis shares into FOMO and FOBO is their roots in narcissism and their poisonous effects on our relationships with others. When we constantly strive to keep our options open, running after the imaginary ‘perfect’ choice and scrambling not to miss out on cultural trends, we not only do ourselves no favors, but we don’t show much respect for the people around us. Our friends, family, potential employers and more are left hanging as we procrastinate making decisions until we’re sure it’s the ‘right’ choice. This part struck home for me, as someone who’s made many a lunch companion die of boredom while I struggle to decide what to order. Importantly, he urges readers not to waste time on unimportant decisions like a lunch order, because there are no bad options. Careful decision-making processes must be reserved for high-stakes decisions only, where the outcome is very important to your life.

For the most part, I found this book helpful and interesting, though his focus on corporate entities and professional corporate life wasn’t relevant or interesting to me. Luckily, most of his strategies remain relevant outside corporate life as well. If you want to work on being decisive and/or less addicted to social media validation and guilt, I recommend giving this book a try.

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