Fear and missing

The fear of missing out prevails. In an era of accelerating change and visibility – that is to say, of quick and massive opportunities (and sometimes gains), widely and immediately publicized (and oftentimes exaggerated) – it isn’t an improbable outcome. Among many.

The phenomenon has been so common in the past decade, more or less, to even get acronym’d by popular culture – FOMO – a mark of status and abundant use, when printed characters must keep up with breathless and persistent messaging, so no one misses out.

The power law manifestations in competitive dynamics where some winners take the most, are rooted somewhere not too far from FOMO, on a certain level. The market bubbles that emerge may be more obvious examples, although the network graphs and clusters are not so different from the first case, I don’t think.

Sometimes these bubbles burst, sometimes they don’t, and then it’s arguable that they were even bubbles. The speed however is the thing that is important. It signals to the next big wave, which starts out small, that missing out could be an issue. A missed gain is almost like a loss, and maybe even worse, if others made it.

The underlying basics aren’t of particular importance. It may even be that there aren’t any, or that the ones that are, are not thought through for lasting impact. Perhaps that doesn’t matter much, because the impact is inherent in the value or the bubble that gets formed. By fear and by the missing.

When the economy reopens, this may ignite the spark that leads to a recovery, which may be faster, sharper than if purely based on need.