Graham: In quarantine, FOMO has been eliminated

When no one's doing anything, there's no need to worry about what everyone's doing

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Another weekend indoors.

It’s not so bad, really. At least we’re all on the same page. Nobody’s going out of town for the weekend, nobody’s heading out to a fancy dinner, nobody scored killer tickets to that big concert Saturday night.

Tim McGraw during the "iHeart Living Room Concert."

We’re at home. From there, options are limited: make it a Netflix night? Maybe get takeout from a local restaurant? How about a card game? That’s about it in quarantine. Ho-hum.

But there’s something comforting about that ho-hum, because we’re all ho-hum right now. And the pressure to go out, to pack your weekend with activities, has been eliminated. The old, “whatcha up to this weekend?” has disappeared.

And so has FOMO.

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is defined by Webster’s (the online edition, natch) as “fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing.”

It’s the feeling that everybody is having more fun than you, living a better life than you, and it’s exacerbated by social media, when your feed is full of pictures of your friends or loved ones or celebs all doing something fun or fabulous while you, well, stare at your screen.

But in quarantine, there is no FOMO. No one is doing anything better than you, except if they have Battleship or a subscription to the Criterion Channel and you don’t. And all in all, that’s a good thing.

Quarantine, coronavirus, social distancing, everything we’re experiencing right now has been a great leveler, which I think was the point of what Madonna was trying to say in that bathtub video before it went all wrong.

The rich have bigger, nicer homes than us, but they’re stuck indoors, too. Last weekend’s "iHeart Living Room Concert" gave us a peak at the Backstreet Boys’ man caves and Tim McGraw’s extra large outdoor swimming pool, and sure they look great, but you could tell that pinball machine in Brian Littrell’s basement hasn’t been played in a hot minute.

We’re all just hanging around, maybe doing virtual happy hours with friends, and probably starting those happy hours too early. (Booze sales spiked 55% in the third week of March compared to the same time a year ago, according to Nielsen, which means you’re not the only one who’s making margaritas by 4 p.m. these days.)

There’s no race to check Instagram to see who’s having more fun than you, because no one’s having any fun. And anytime someone goes live on Instagram you realize how boring they really are.

So quarantine, then, has taught us an important lesson in both FOMO and social envy: Don’t have it! Because in times of national crisis, when word comes down from above, we’ve all got to lock our doors and burrow up in our homes no matter who we are. And if we’re on the same page now then we’re on the same page when the restrictions are lifted, too.

Sure, you can see pictures of someone on a fabulous trip, but they’re still the same person they were when we were all quarantined, just the background of their selfie has changed. Be happy in who you are and what you've built around you, because that's what matters. Everyone's got their own problems and those often don't make it through the Instagram filters. That fabulous life comes with its own set of complications. 

Sure it’s annoying and it’s cliched to say but we really are all in this together, and that’s true on both ends of the quarantine.

So what’s everyone up to this weekend?