Words: Jeremy Benson
Not that long ago, information didn’t travel at the speed of 4G, or even 3G. Conditions and big storms were something you learned about after the fact. Video and photo evidence of the radness was seen the following year in movies and magazines. If you were missing out on the storm of the century, you were none the wiser, and by the time you found out, it had come and gone. It was a simpler time.
Now, with landlines and flip phones obsolete, we have smartphones. These mini computers have (de)evolved into an indispensable tool for spreading the most insidious digitally transmitted disease that I know of.
I have a self-diagnosed, acute, and chronic Fear of Missing Out. The F.O.M.O. flare-ups are sudden and brought on by Too Much Information. Noticeable symptoms include, but are not limited to: anxiety, indecisiveness, jealousy, excessive alcohol or marijuana consumption, carpal tunnel, and attempts at giving F.O.M.O. to others.
Every winter, F.O.M.O. returns and swallows me whole, as the first snows of the year blanket the mountains. Skiers and various media sources jump to action, preparing a seemingly coordinated strategic strike directly at my F.O.M.O. sensors. Instantly, reports start rolling in. Snow totals, P.O.V. videos, photos, tweets, cute little Facebook status updates, all saying, “It’s good here, see for yourself, you’re blowing it…” Irrational ideas start flying around my brain, thoughts of jumping in the car and driving 10 hours to ___ mountain are entertained, the weather across ski country compulsively checked ad-nauseum.
At times, I free myself of the F.O.M.O. by successfully transmitting it to others. I know I shouldn’t, but it feels so good. My Facebook status reads “dawn patrol on ___, still made it to ___ before the lifts started spinning,” or “today was soooo sick!”, and my personal favorite: the Instagram or mobile upload photo of my ski tips hanging over the edge of my run. It’s gloating, but it’s subtle, just obvious enough to let other people know that I was getting it and they were not.
However, don’t be mistaken: The F.O.M.O. isn’t all doom and gloom. Sure it has cost me thousand of dollars in gas money and plane tickets, and hundreds of anxious- and envy-filled days, but it also taught me a valuable lesson. The only way for me to truly beat the F.O.M.O. isn’t to pretend the Internet doesn’t exist, but by simply not missing out in the first place. By getting it while the getting’s good and living in the present, I can shed the F.O.M.O. for months at a time. On powder days, I ski to the bell or hike that extra lap, not just so I can claim it, but because you never know what tomorrow will bring. And you may never have a chance to take that run again. Unless, of course, you got it on video.