Most of us have heard the phrase Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. FOMO occurs when you experience anxieties associated with being afraid that you’re going to miss out on something. However, until today, I had never heard of the phrase Fear of Not Knowing (FONK).
I was reading Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains by Susan Greenfield, and she began to discuss FONK. Specifically how it impacts our use of technology. You know that feeling you get that drives you to obsessively check your email, applications, etc.? That feeling is driven by FONK. By constantly checking in, you’re satisfying your mind’s need of being constantly up-to-date.
However, there are bigger implications associated with FONK that impact our behaviours. One such example is staying in a job that you hate because you’re afraid of what changing jobs/roles/etc. might involve or that you’re afraid of not being satisfied with the change. This too is FONK, and this is a situation that we see more and more. I feel like the millennials are a bit better at being more adaptive to change, and being more willing to subject themselves to change. However, in a traditional sense, we’ve been programmed to do things in a certain way, check the boxes, and stay put. This is causing unnecessary stress and suffering on a generation of working class individuals.
I don’t have any good suggestions for combatting FONK, but my greatest recommendation can only be to do what you can to be happy. Set boundaries for yourself (e.g. working for 1 hour before you allow yourself 5 minutes to check your news sites), and don’t let FONK control your destiny. Take a cue from FOMO, and give yourself permission to become more adaptive.