girl reading a book

FOMO, the ever present Virus

Our contemporary culture seems to be affected by a new Virus: FOMO.

Human behaviour is always a mystery. Doubt, fear, anxiety and stress have always fascinated researchers and scientists. Deep and informed studies dedicate rivers of ink and metric tonnes of paper to studying our ever-complex interaction with the unpredictable and the unknown. And precisely coming from the realms related to procrastination and self-doubt, a new emerging pattern seems to be on the rise: we feel, at times, terrified of missing out. What do we seem to be so afraid of missing? Actually anything: a deal, an opportunity, a party, a photo opportunity, a conversation… even a coupon. And this is now so commonplace and recurring that it has been labelled by an acronym: FOMO. In other words, Fear of Missing Out. 

Always alert to seize the opportunity, marketers, advertisers and media people know how to drive this almost primal fear translating it into clicks, views, and sales conversions. For them, this deep feeling becomes a powerful ally, a tool to be explored constantly, transforming us from onlookers into engaged consumers. Take, for instance, this short but cunning phrase: This is Limited Time offer…

Most of the time, this short statement has been casually ‘planted’ among cutely designed ‘small letters’ preceded by an intriguing asterisk… Yet, this 5 words sentence seems to set in motion an inner and powerful urge, quite comparable to our ancestors’ ‘flee or fight’ response. This limited-time offer immediately warns us, compels us and drives us to an alarming conclusion: we are about to miss out on a unique chance to get a once-in-a-lifetime shot at a unique opportunity. FOMO, in the form of a primal reaction, takes an urging and compelling shape. So, under the fear and pain of missing out, we need to act. We have to act. And NOW. 

Education and FOMO

FOMO, a potent human behaviour relentlessly pounded by successful marketers, is often missed out by educators. Far from the clever strategy driving you to consume unnecessary products, it may become a powerful tool for excellent and legitimate goals if used well and for the right purposes. How? Well… input this wonderful aphorism: “When we pray, we talk to God. When we read, God talks to us.”
As parents and educators, we must inspire our little ones, challenging them to raise and look for the best possible options. And here comes the key element: make them feel what they are missing when they don’t read. Help them to experience the immense horizon of options, waiting for them in the pages of a book. If successful, you will open to them a world of possibilities that may never end.

 “When we pray, we talk to God. When we read, God talks to us.”

After original sin, any skill requires effort. And reading is no exception. It rather seems to be an acquired taste, as no intellectual abilities come for free as a discount on a coupon. This is why FOMO may become a great tool to get over the initial struggles. In due time, your household may be filled with a small army of little but avid readers, capable of devouring pages and pages in a fearful cadence.

Parents as permanent educators 

Once those powerful forces are unleashed in those young minds, please do not forget a critical factor: kids cannot be abandoned to their own devices. As a parent, you need to gently supervise their newly discovered treasure, avoiding disappointments and even dangerous disasters, namely when some reading materials are inconvenient or not suitable for their age.

mother and daughter readingAs St. Thomas Aquinas puts it so well, “Verum, Bonum Pulchrum,” (Latin words for Truth, Goodness and Beauty) are the guiding parameters to be sought when looking into the proper reading material.

Truth, Goodness and Beauty are the essentials of Virtue. And guiding the little one’s vision towards these three key components will transform them. At this point, the primal FOMO will evolve into a most powerful virtue: admiration.

Admiration: the transforming virtue

Why is admiration so critical? Because admiration is transformational. We turn into what we love simply because we crave what we admire. A hero, an attitude, a saying, or a particular person, will command our admiration as long as we can appreciate, cherish and love what they mean or represent. Once admiration comes into the picture, no one will be able to stop and prevent the unquenchable pursue of what we admire and love. Admiration decides the course of a life. Sparking that chain of events may be well within reach of your hands. Remember: “When we read, God talks to us…” 

So here is a summary and a set of handy tips:

  • Read to your children; 
  • Open their eyes to this wonderful habit; 
  • Guide them to a safe reading environment where Truth, Goodness and Beauty shine and sparkle.

Follow these steps, and get ready to witness amazing and unexpected wonders. Your efforts will reap immense rewards. And the Fear of Missing Out, far from turning into empty anxiety, may be playing to your favour. 


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