Meet FOMO’s Cousin, FODO


So, is “me time” real?

Last week, I was at dinner and an acquaintance named Mark was lamenting about a trip he was about to embark on to his friend’s cabin upstate, even though all he wanted to do was stay home and spend time with his pet dogs. Plural.

We determined that he was not suffering from a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) or FOMD (fear of missing documentation) because he both wanted to miss the event that lay ahead and well understood that upstate, the wifi is as rare as an eagle seen flying through New York (so how would he document?). He was, however, growing privy to a different phenomenon we have recently identified as FODO.

FODO stands for Fear of Disappointing Others and more often than not gets bracketed within FOMO, when in reality, the social deficiency is loosely, if at all, a cousin of the aforementioned. This is chiefly because FOMO is a much more unilateral ailment whereas FODO pertains to second or third party contribution as well.

We tend to find ourselves programmed for plans involving people we don’t want to see, or going to events we don’t want to attend. But why is that? As a sufferer of FODO, I think sometimes you simply might not want to hurt the courter’s feelings. Other times, you can’t pull the trigger on telling that girl you interned with in college, who has been e-mailing on a weekly basis since you both graduated five years ago asking when you can “do” drinks, that the 35th of Nevuary is when works for you.

In 90% of instances, you can be a victim of FODO because you suffer from another terminal malady called Sympathy.

My own experience has frankly found it too dick-y not to go along with someone who is suggesting we make plans. What am I supposed to say in return to a summoning? “I’d really prefer it if we remained e-mail correspondents”?

Amelia practically spends her nights appeasing her FODO. Sometimes she even does it romantically. Says the afflicted, “I hate generally 99% of the population and yet my dedication to good manners is so crippling that I would literally say yes to Putin if he bugged me enough.”

But is there a cure? Can there be a cure?

Maybe, and it is vaguely tethered to the principles that YOLO is founded upon.

On December 31st of 2013, my friend Sophie made a resolution that in 2014 she would not only do her, but she would also never penalize her friends for doing them. For weeks, she walked around saying, “You do you, and I’ll do me” as she ducked out of social dinner obligations early, or uncharacteristically came out of conversations with chronic cancelers (not to be confused with chancellors but similar to Bailer Swifts), unscathed and with poise.

There is the possibility that there’s a larger motif at play with FODO. It could be that the alleged plague is simply the Millennial, albeit narcissistic, equivalent of politeness. Maybe we’re not afraid to disappoint others so much as we don’t want to — or know how to — because we’ve been trained to react in social settings differently. That, of course, brings up the question of what’s worse: nipping an undesired plan so soon it can’t even be rendered a plan, or going through with the preparations and subsequently lashing out while you bewail agreeing to do something you believe you shouldn’t have to do.

I should mention that Mark had a wonderful time upstate.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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