The FOMO Years

Jonathan Park, Weekend MBA Class of 2014

Jonathan Park, Weekend MBA Class of 2014

I know what has been haunting your dreams and making you rise in the middle of the night with a cold sweat: FOMO. Fear. Of. Missing. Out. FOMO hits all MBA students—weekend, evening, full-time—it doesn’t matter. Being relatively young, situated within a major metropolitan darling like Chicago, and going to school with such rich, albeit nerdy, history brings out the FOMO. Like Punxsutawney Phil telling us that winter is ending, FOMO reminds us that our time at Booth is ending, but yet there is so much to do. And unfortunately every choice is a trade-off. Should I rock out with my cohort at Epic or go see Al Gore talk at the Institute of Politics? Should I finally talk to that cute guy or girl in my class or get in one more great conversation with my friend who will be graduating in June and moving to Cameroon? Should I take that job with Bain in Chicago or join my friend’s hilariously cute cat-meme start-up? If this conundrum has affected Booth students since the days of Milton S. Friedman, then what is the answer?

After punching in some algorithms into R, I wasn’t able to get an answer (although I got a wicked graph). Personally, I am not graduating in June, but I am trying to judo-chop FOMO in the face. Last quarter I finally went to Girl and the Goat with some Boothies. It took three months—and an additional hour wait past our actual reservation time—but it was delicious. If that is what girls and goats can produce working together then maybe world peace is within reach. A few weeks ago I went to the UChicago Japanese Student Association’s annual cultural show and the UChicago Summer Breeze festival. Yet FOMO fought back. Going to Girl and the Goat meant that I missed eating at other great Randolph Street restaurants. Going to the cultural show meant that I missed seeing Billy Zane at the Lyric Opera. And going to Summer Breeze meant that I missed catching up with a Boothie who graduated last December.

Perhaps we can view this as: life is about experiences and FOMO is about the direct loss of an experience. Therefore, maybe we shouldn’t focus on the direct loss, but think about the foregone gain. Nah—that is too rational. I think everyone has a different definition of FOMO and, as Boothies, we just have to understand that folks pursue their own interests, and those may differ from our own. Now is not the time to be bitter if someone prefers to see Al Gore speak over hanging out with friends. As Boothies, we’ll always be here, but Al Gore only comes once every global warming meltdown. One of the reasons Booth is great is because of the freedom we’re given to mold the entire MBA experience. As long as no one is getting hurt, we should encourage and support each other’s FOMO missions. Then we should reunite, happily recount our FOMO stories, and pour one for Al Gore.