I can hardly remember what it feels like to devote even an ounce of concern to social engagements.
I haven’t been in the physical presence of a friend in 30 days, and I don’t leave the house for anything other than a walk around the block or an essential trip to the store.
Just a month ago FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” consumed me on a regular basis. I live in a different state as most of my friends and co-workers, which means I’m constantly skipping events, parties, happy hours, and quality hang out time to commute home or catch up on sleep during the weekends.
FOMO has been a constant in my life for the past several years, but now that more people are social distancing in attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, I can hardly remember what it feels like to miss out on socializing.
Over the past month a “fear of missing out” has been replaced with a fear of going out, thanks to widespread fear of the novel coronavirus, which results in the respiratory disease known as COVID-19. States like New York, California, Connecticut, and more are on lockdown, while people around the country are being encouraged to stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others.
Not having to worry about the fun activities that everyone else is doing is a refreshing change of pace. But the real reason the lack of FOMO is so exciting is because it proves that people are doing their parts and making an honest effort to “flatten the curve.”
President Donald Trump recently that discourage nonessential travel, physically going to work, gathering in groups of more than 10 people, and more, to April 30. So that means people won’t be hanging out at bars and restaurants, going to movie theaters, or having large parties for at least another month. Instead of going out, people have been embracing Netflix marathons, reading, cooking, and other solitary activities. And as many pointed out, including Superstore star Ben Feldman, there’s a certain thrill in knowing that we’re all missing out on public socialization together.
Nowadays, if I see people going out to have fun and clearly violating social distancing guidelines, I’m not jealous of their experiences in any way. I’m disappointed in them for not staying inside and doing their part to help end the pandemic.
That’s not to say that FOMO doesn’t exist in the time of coronavirus, it simply manifests itself in smaller, far more inconsequential ways.
In these trying times, FOMO might creep up if you see that friends had Zoom party and didn’t invite you. Perhaps you haven’t been tagged in one of those Instagram Story challenges that task you with doing push-ups or drawing a carrot. Or maybe you’re feeling left out of popular social media conversations because you don’t have Animal Crossing: New Horizons or a Netflix subscription to watch Tiger King.
Social distancing can be lonely at times, so here are some tips to help you get through this challenging time. And just because there are fewer social engagements to miss out on, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. A bunch of celebrities and musicians have been livestreaming entertainment, and there are even ways to watch movies and television shows with long-distance friends and family.
If you catch yourself missing the days of hanging out with friends IRL and socializing in public, that’s totally normal, but just remember everyone is missing out on a social life so try to enjoy this rare opportunity for collective downtime as much as you can.
We may all be physically separated, but we’re all living the same strange and scary reality.