Do you have Fobo? It sounds, to the lay ear, like a furry, adorable (if potentially needy) must-have Christmas toy. In reality, it’s a much-needed label for a very particular, painfully modern social anxiety: the Fear of Better Options.
Most of us have, at some point, sloped into the kitchen and opened the fridge door, intent on eating something – anything – only to gaze at the heaving shelves in stupefied silence, before closing it again and deciding that hunger is, in fact, preferable to making a decision.
Well imagine that, but for almost every aspect of your life. Conceived by Patrick McGinnis, the US venture capitalist, Fobo goes even further than its older cousin, Fomo (the Fear of Missing Out – another McGinnis coinage), in having the potential to stifle everything from dinner plans to career progression, wardrobes to new relationships.
Fobo doesn’t care whether you’re trying to make a minor decision (peanut butter or Nutella?) or a life-changing one – it will leave you overwhelmed by the plethora of options available and the promise of what might be... if only you can make the best call possible.
Here are six signs you may be Fobo-afflicted. And please, do read on, despite the temptation of the other articles surrounding this one. They’ll still be there when you finish.
1. Your calendar resembles a Post-it note factory: In an ideal world, there’d be a lot of blank spaces with the occasional event penned in. In reality, your inability to neither say “no” to an event, nor fully commit to one, means there are labels all over the place.
2. The Netflix page you stare at the most is the menu: It was going so well — you just about managed to choose something to eat from all the options on the Deliveroo menu, you have picked a sofa to sit on and now you just have to find something to watch. You don’t really mind what it is, so open Netflix and... your mind goes blank. Some have called this “analysis paralysis”. How can you click on The Crown when everyone at work was recommending The Good Place? Wouldn’t it be more nourishing for your dinner party patter if you inhaled that documentary about the dark side of Bikram yoga? But then, you just want to relax, and Friends is right there. After three hours of scrolling, it’s time for bed.
3. You’re always dressed for anything, and nothing: The inability to choose between a hen party, the opera and a SoulCycle class does not make for an obvious wardrobe ensemble. Trainers with an LBD and a novelty necklace just in case? Lycra shorts under a ball gown with an L-plate pinned to your tiara? It’s difficult, and while you’ve become adept at lugging around a bag that covers most options, the reality isn’t that you’re prepared for anything, it’s that you’re prepared for nothing.
4. You’ve turned down your dream job multiple times: It was the right salary, the right role, with good scope for progression, a nice-seeming boss, a fine commute, and it’s a company you’ve always dreamed of working for... but there was something “off” about it, so you decided to turn down that promotion in order to see what comes up in the next few months. You’ve done this for 22 years. You’re close to retirement now.
5. You have a special “receipt folder” for everything you’ve bought over the past 28 days: And you never cut a label off. Because you just never know, do you?
The Daily Telegraph