The Fear of Missing Out on Fallout

Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the last month, with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears, you’ve been inundated and bombarded with Fallout 4 references. Yes, there is a game, from a popular franchise, that released a long-awaited sequel and made its first appearance on the latest generation of consoles and PCs. Imgur, Reddit, Facebook, and even Conan O’Brien have been bursting with commentary on Bethesda’s blockbuster. I haven’t seen this much cross-platform hype for a game in ages, and I can’t even play the damn thing. While everyone else is busy exploring the wasteland and playing with their Pip-Boys, I remain in a state of limbo as Sony takes their sweet time repairing my PS4.

In past years, this would have really annoyed me—especially with the aforementioned barrage of stories, memes, pictures, video clips, and gameplay previews that are clogging the raging river that is the Internet. I literally could not get away from the game; like an alcoholic at a frat party, all I could was sit and watch as everyone else danced around me in a state of communal revelry whilst I sat on a chair twiddling my thumbs.

FOMOFalloutinsert2Let’s take an aside for a second and talk about a term that’s really gained traction over the last few years, thanks mostly to smartphones and social media. FoMO, or “The Fear of Missing Out,” is a modern phobia that according to Wikipedia consists of “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”.  Basically, everyone else is enjoying something that I can’t participate in and this gives me anxiety. Thanks to the instant nature of the Internet and social media, this feeling of watching a happy family Christmas through a frosted window as you stand alone in the cold is exacerbated a hundredfold. It’s the total opposite of voyeurism, in that it only serves to remind you that you could be in the embrace of your fellow humans, enjoying the thrill of participating in a cultural event, but you’re not. You’re alone, and missing out.

That’s basically how I would have felt a few years ago if I missed the launch of a highly anticipated game like Fallout. As much as I hate making these claims, I put hundreds of hours into Fallout 3 and New Vegas. One of the first pictures I ever drew in art class in elementary school was the power armour mask from Fallout 2. I love these games. However, call it old age, or Internet fatigue, or just the patience of being a gamer for nearly 30 years, but I’m ok with waiting on this one. It’s not like I have to go to school tomorrow and listen to everybody talk about the hilarious character that gives a certain quest, or the super rare weapon mod that nobody knew about. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet has basically replaced it, but I now have the power to shut it out.

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Plus, there are plenty of advantages to waiting a few weeks to play a game. I’ll be able to grab a used copy at a discounted price, and let’s be honest; at this point in my life my gaming budget isn’t exactly what it used to be. If I’m lucky, the plethora of bugs Bethesda games are notorious for *might* get patched. Once a game has been out for a little while, there will be plenty of guides, maps, and tips available for my perusal should I become stuck or frustrated. And most importantly, I’ll be able to enjoy it on my time, at my own pace, without worrying that I’m not in the same place as the guys on my videogame forum.

So I can safely bid farewell to my FoMO, because frankly I just don’t care as much anymore, and that’s a liberating feeling. I have other things to occupy my time, like work, and exercise, and cleaning the house. Fun things like getting groceries and doing my taxes. What sane person would rather be exploring a new and interesting virtual world, battling super mutants and customizing power armour than scrubbing a toilet? Not me, I’m happy to postpone it.

Or, this entire article was just my way of coping with the fact that I’ve been dying a little bit on the inside with every post about a game I’ve been looking forward to for years that I can’t play, while everyone else enjoys that special feeling of exploring a brand new world with the rest of the gaming community. Whatever.