Everybody Generalizes

Orangeville, ON (James Doan) “Everyone experiences FOMO, fear of missing out,” I read recently in a business book. A dozen pages on how to overcome this debilitating malady followed.

Fear of missing out is an experience of anguish at the idea that others are enjoying something that you are not. Many marketers take advantage of this by urging people – explicitly or implicitly – not to be the only one who doesn’t have a whosiwhatsit or isn’t in on the meme of the moment.

I looked up from the book and asked myself: Could I remember ever experiencing fear of missing out? In high school, possibly. And there went the author’s credibility.

An Israeli strategy consultant named Dr. Dan Herman, who claims to have originated the concept in the 1990s, says his research shows that 70 percent of adults experience FOMO. Obviously, 70 percent is quite a bit less than 100 percent.

It seems more exciting and important to write “every.” And if you’re aiming at people who don’t take words seriously, the distinction between “most” and “every” may not matter.

But overgeneralizing hurts you with the 30 percent minority.

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