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28 November 2013

The fear of missing out is especially true of lesbian culture

The fomo is strong with this one.

By Eleanor Margolis

‘‘Everything happens so much” is the most poignant thing ever tweeted by an artist pretending to be a spambot. The cult Twitter account Horse_ebooks alluded to one of the most persistent problems of middle-class modern life – Fear of Missing Out.

“Fomo” is that feeling of panic that rises in your offal every time you flick through the Guardian Guide and realise you failed to get tickets for that immersive theatre “experience” involving hens in trousers. But no matter how much any given straight person is affected by Fomo, I can guarantee that lesbians get it ten times worse. Fomo is the voice in my head that, every year, manages to convince me that if I go to Gay Pride, I won’t end up standing in the rain, sipping a can of Strongbow and harbouring a disquieting level of resentment towards rainbows.

Imagine you’re a bell-ringer. You’re quite happy being one – it’s how you get your frissons. You’re so into bell-ringing that you only date other bell-ringers. But how do you go about meeting others with such an eccentrically specific raison d’être? Well, you subscribe to Campanology Today. You find yourself trudging along to every bell-ringing-related event imaginable: the bell-ringers’ ball, singles night at the Ding Dong Society, a campanological trip to Alton Towers.

Thing is, you don’t really want to go on log rides with other bell-ringers. All you want to do is ring bells. But the tyranny of hype combined with your overpowering need to find a lovely bell-ringing life partner has left you with a dire case of Fomo.

Perhaps lesbians aren’t as rare a breed as bell-ringers. But there are relatively few of us compared to, say, straight men called Clive. This means that I end up at lesbian book clubs, tea parties and box socials, in the vain hope that I might find a wife. Just like the frustrated bell-ringer, all I want to do is be a lesbian in peace without having to make a concerted effort to hang out with other lesbians. But how can I possibly not go to that queer vegan baking seminar, when a Sixties Mia Farrow lookalike who’s into exotic cheeses might be there?

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When I was at university, my freshers’ week Fomo prompted me to join one of the many socialist societies. When the socialists tried to make me go and see a Michael Moore film with them, I hastily unjoined. What I should have learned from my brief flirtation with student politics is that Fomo should never, under any circumstances, be obeyed. If you find yourself in a converted abattoir perusing tampon sculptures, the chances are you’ve given in to a severe attack of Fomo: it is self-aware and it wants, more than anything else in the world, for you to do stupid and pointless shit. Ask yourself, if #JumpOffaBridge was trending, would you do it?

If I’m entirely honest with myself, I don’t want to pay money to see hens in trousers. To quote my mum’s astute analysis of anything cultural: “It’s all just wankers doing wank.” Maybe I’ve come to terms with my Fomo. And perhaps the next time I’m invited to sew political tapestries with other gay women, I’ll remember that very few things are actually worth doing.