I’ve mentioned before how uncool I am (and no, find it yourself, I’m not posting the link) but that’s okay because I’ve just discovered that the same young people who snigger at me mercilessly, as if I should for some reason be embarrassed or something, are themselves slowly but surely lagging behind the LATEST THING.


Some of us remember the awful day when a certain generation went from texting acronyms like YOLO and FOMO and ROFL to verbalising them. I announced it as the ‘End of Language as We Know It’ or something appropriately apocalyptic at the time. Anyway, the short messaging system was originally so expensive that we tried to stay within the character-limit of a single message —  ie. communicating in short messages — I don’t even know if this exist anymore, because we all pepper our sms’s with strings of emoji that cost 70+ characters a pop. My point is, the uptakers of this new semantics thought they were the bee’s knees (an example of something nobody says anymore). At least, until some guy in marketing turned regret into a sales-tool:

“FOMO-type communications can be used to increase sales and group size before a trip, especially if referral marketing techniques are employed, and also encourage non-participants to travel when the next opportunity arises.” He offers the following advice for travel retailers:

  • Before the trip: maximise anticipated regret by encouraging students to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the vacation offer. 
  • During the trip: increase regret among non-participants by encouraging social media activity – for example, by refunding accommodation wifi charges to enable travellers to post ‘fun’ pictures on a daily basis.
  • After the trip: to confirm that non-participants have missed out, provide incentives for travellers to display ‘good times’ photos on social media.  Run a competition for the best destination pictures depicting ‘group fun’.

“Both anticipated regret and actual post-event regret are integral elements of the FOMO response, and marketers can leverage these by using appropriate communications at each stage by inferring that an individual might miss out beforehand, is missing out during the trip, or has missed out afterwards. Used in this way, FOMO appeals can be a very effective way to target the youth market.”

The dreaded FOMO in fact began life as a marketing-concept around the year 2000, as close as anybody can tell, albeit under a different acronym: FOBO (the fear of a better option). When people use FOBO now, the term incorrectly signifies the fear of being offline (which of course triggers FOMO). An intelligent revision of this (now two decades old) phenomena suggests there’s an even newer term to describe our modern anxiety: FODA, the fear of doing anything. Paralysed, they don’t want to make a choice because they don’t want to make the wrong choice.


Poor babies. Don’t take yourselves so seriously. The only acronym you really need to learn is YCDE (you can’t do everything).



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