Fear of Missing Out?

During our recent African Adventure, I came across a number of Millennials and experienced first hand how different they are from me as a Baby Boomer!  Yes, I know not all Millennials are the same, just as all Baby Boomers are different.  But there were definitely some generational gaps I noticed.

It is said that Millennials largely live for today because they hold a deep “fear of missing out” on life experiences by saving money for a future that many not come. The term has even been reduced to FOMO.

The Millennials we met on tour took 2-3 trips a year of the kind I called our once-in-a-lifetime trip. They even talked about their fear of missing out on life experiences and needing to live like there is no tomorrow. They had their next adventure already being discussed and planned while this one was not even over.

It also amazed me how they moaned about not being connected. As soon as we got to a space that had WiFi they were immediately on their phones, heads down, no conversation with those who were physically with them. To them, (old) virtual connections were more important than (new) physical connections. I guess the FOMO was linked to making sure they were up to speed on things back home.   Hubby and I ended up interacting mostly with the (other) 50-70 year olds and met some amazing, inspiring people!

My Baby Boomer delayed gratification behavior conflicted strongly with this FOMO, do-everything-now mind-set.  I realized I like having lots of possibilities on my possibility list – probably more possibilities than I’ll ever get to! It gives me reasons to look towards the future.  I wonder how these younger folks will continue to find things to look forward to, when they’ve done it all by the time they are 50.

Are you happy with a long list of possibilities that might never all be realized (without regret)?  Or, do you have a fear of missing out?

 

Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, Kenya 2017

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16 thoughts on “Fear of Missing Out?

  1. It’s so ironic, I think, that the very people who have a fear of missing out are indeed missing out – on life when they spend so much time in virtual connection.
    I think you make a good point when you say that all these trips now will leave a dearth of experiences to be had in the future. I worked for a travel agency when I was in high school and university. We used to tell our clients that the sign of a great trip was that they came home just before they were ready to do so. Staying that extra day or two that results in being bored or wishing you were home is to be avoided. Your post makes me wonder what that looks like applied to a life. Will multiple “once in a lifetime” trips now spell boredom with life, not just the vacation, in twenty years? I hope not, but this behaviour is all so new that we won’t know until the Millennials are our age.

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  2. Janis, I took a selfie on our recent trip….with an elephant in the background! LOL. I actually didn’t take that many pictures at all because I was enamored with just looking at things. So I understand wanting to enjoy the experience. But it was the constant need for experiencing everything and worry they might not. I wonder if they feel regret when they hear that they have “missed” something – you cannot be everywhere, do everything. I (re)learned that on our trip as well – everyone had a slightly different safari game drive as we all went different directions. So, no, I didn’t see the cheetah chase, or the elephants protecting their baby from hyenas. And I came to accept what we did see, with gratitude. And looking back at hubby’s pictures (he took enough for both of us), we saw amazing things! P.S. I don’t think most have any focus on saving money for retirement…I personally started at 22 for that…another generational gap?

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  3. Pat, I think there is a balance. As a boomer and recovered workaholic I can see how they are afraid of missing out. Eventually they will hopefully learn to live in the moment and soak in the current experience. That probably comes with maturity. In the meantime, in their quest not to miss out, they actually may be missing out. K

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    1. I am learning to live in the moment and also to appreciate those moments…and realize they were the ones that were meant to be for me. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a huge FOMO! Does this mean I am maturing? 🙂

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  4. Pat, your generational observations are spot on (of course there are differences within each member). I have to believe the materialism of us boomers fed our millennials their feelings of entitlement. I was 50 before I got my first passport, while my kids got theirs at young ages.

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    1. We saw young kids on our safari trip. Not in our group, but in others we saw at lodges. If they are taking these “once in a life time” trips when that young, what are they going to look forward to as they get older? I guess the world will create even more/different once-in-a-lifetime moments to keep feeding their adventurous natures.

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  5. I have come to accept that I will leave this world with a long list of uncompleted possibilities and that’s ok. I keep my Someday/Maybe list up to date, add to it as I find new things that excite me and occasionally subtract from it as something that I previously added loses my interest. Best to have things to look forward to even if you never quite finish them, in my opinion.

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  6. I don’t think there’s any one-size-fits-all approach to life, but sooner or later the realities of needing to support themselves and their lifestyle will become increasingly difficult – unless their version of retirement planning is inheriting mom and dad’s money.

    Don’t laugh – I actually know a few of those :/

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    1. I did LOL, because I think that’s my one niece as well. Unfortunately, it’s grandma’s money she expects and I know my mom’s finances…. the money will not be there. Grandma is living a very long and comfortable (not crazy, but comfortable) life. Hmm, maybe niece is expecting my money? (no kids here) Hubby & I are spending it – not crazy, but still spending.

      I honestly don’t understand the live-beyond-your-means lifestyle. But there are many of my (and your) generation who are the same. I knew a woman who maxed out her credit cards & just kept getting more – because she didn’t think she had to ever pay them off totally. (I lost track of her and never did find out what happened – I’m guessing she declared bankruptcy and didn’t have to pay them off!)

      There isn’t a one-size-fits-all, but I do believe you need to support yourself (if you are able) and not become a drain on the rest of us.

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  7. As Gen X, I do feel like I’m sympathetic to both worlds. I’m all for taking the experiences when you can get them (or making sure you bring experiences into your life), especially travelling when young. Travelling is so formative, and vast, that I don’t believe they will have ever done it all. Also, space is opening up, possibly within their lifetimes!

    The internet, not so much (I’ve resisted the ‘always-on’ of a smartphone so far), but relationships are executed differently for them. I like to be totally away from my own life, and count meeting people as part of the experience. However, I have internet friends that are not bound by place or time. Being on holidays and having time to interact with them thoughtfully is relaxing for me.

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  8. Hi Pat, I have a definite fear of missing out, but it’s the exact opposite of the millenials. I’m certain I would miss out on my life and all of its riches if I devoted time to social media. Heck, I don’t even text because to start doing so would result in too many friends expecting me to keep it up!

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  9. Hi, Pat – I definitely have FOMO — but mostly for time with the people that I love as opposed to things that cost money. That is the main reason that I retired early — to spend more time with loved ones. Great post!

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    1. I think having control on my time is also really the reason I retired early.

      There are many things I want to do, including with people, but I don’t have this sense of FOMO. I’m trying to accept the things we do get to do with gratitude and the things we “miss”, they were not meant to be for me.

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  10. What an interesting observation. I wonder if this generation is also saving for a time they will not (or cannot) be working? I think that fear of missing out also extends to social media. They (yes, I know this is a big generalization) are always on social media just in case something important is posted so that they don’t miss out on that.

    Additionally, I’ve observed that many people are so focused on taking selfies, they completely miss the view.

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