A lesson that most of us had drilled into us as youngsters (most likely during our teen years) is that just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean you should, too. It’s the old “if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off, too?” scolding.
Unfortunately, many of those youngsters grew up and decided that the answer to that question is yes, yes they would jump off that cliff. And they will capture the whole thing on Instagram.
With everyone’s vacations, athletic accomplishments, and feats of derring-do being incessantly broadcast on social media, we are bombarded with ideas for things we should do, places we should go, and experiences we should have. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) phenomenon is attributed to the millennial generation but really isn’t new. And no age group is immune to it.
I’m not saying it’s bad to want to experience things for yourself, to be a doer rather than an armchair observer. This is the essence, the raison d’etre, of travel. But a degree of common sense in making your choices is called for.
Recent stories about traffic jams on Mount Everest (traffic! on top of a mountain!) epitomize the FOMO trend. So many people want to climb Mount Everest – nay, must climb Mount Everest – that people are dying in the tie-ups. Those of us who are not mountain climbers will agree that this is, not to put too fine a point on it, completely stupid. But we’re all occasionally guilty of wanting to do something because everybody else is doing it, even if it makes no sense or is likely to end badly – like going to Florida for spring break.
You must resist the pull of FOMO. Consider your real motivations for wanting to do something, and if the words “should” or “everybody” pop up anywhere in your rationale, don’t do it. Instead, make choices (and this doesn’t just apply to travel) that truly speak to your goals, desires, and dreams.
Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you may need to branch off from the well-trod paths. Find your own way. Make your “Mount Everest” whatever you want it to be. And try not to die in the process.