It's Breaking Bad Week at Complex but I've only watched a single episode, the pilot. I wasn't hooked. Maybe that's because I was checking Twitter the whole time, or something.
To get a glimpse of the mess inside my head, imagine this: It feels like getting to school on Monday morning and hearing everyone talk about how hungover they are from the epic party on Friday night that you had no idea about. Obviously, they're not hungover. The experience was just so awesome, one for the books, that they feel the need to constantly reference the fact that they were there. Hey, I'm guilty of it, too. Thanks to the Age of Instagram, the anxiety, that sinking feeling of not being in on the thing everyone and their mom's into has a name, and it is FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out.
According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of FOMO goes as follows:
FOMO - n. The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something
For extreme cases, the site offers this:
FOMOcidal - n. The overwhelming feeling that the "Fear Of Missing Out" (acronym "FOMO") might actually kill you.
I'd say my FOMO stops a few steps below a straight jacket. But through my masking fear, I've developed a couple behavorial ticks, in addition to the dishonest head nod.
One is denial. I'll make excuses and say that I'd rather watch the series when it wraps. I want to watch it once the hype has died down, so I can an experience of the show that doesn't include annoying Twitterers clouding my judgment, you know?
I reassure myself there's just too much good TV to catch up on. Every week, someone instant messages me with a TV recommendation, but there are only so many hours a day, and there's this thing called life that I want to live. Yeah, that's it. I'm too busy living my life.
Another is rejection. When enough people react like you've just shit yourself in their presence when you mention not having seen the show—"What?! You don't watch Breaking Bad?!" is the most common reaction—it can breed resentment. The same happens to Mad Men and Arrested Development. There've been countless days where I've told myself, "Fuck those guys! Everyone's just hopping on the bandwagon." I shrug it off and silently think that I don't see the big deal. But I'm hyper aware. It's part of my job to be aware.
I do admit I gave into the peer pressure, essentially what FOMO boils down to, with Game of Thrones. Living on my friend's couch for a time, I was force-fed the series, which I've come to love. Maybe it's just Stockholm Syndrome, but apparently sexy people sword fighting and having sex and wearing sets of armor are more captivating to me than cunning meth heads blowing shit up. Maybe my maturity stopped developing at 17, after The O.C. was canceled.
Every new trendy show I've tuned into, like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Girls, has felt like a chance a for me to redeem myself, and make up for the all of the inside jokes I don't get about Breaking Bad. There's a certain kind of pleasure I get from making someone laugh with a reference to or a quote from a show that we both understand. It's like our own secret language. I feel like I'm a part of something for a second.
But, at this point, anything I say now sounds like a cop out, which is true. At the end of the day, this essay is laced with resentment and is basically FOMO incarnate. This upcoming Sunday night will be huge for everyone, but for me, it'll just be another lazy evening on Tumblr.
When my colleagues come in Monday morning, with that look on their face that says they've just seen the Messiah, I'll stay silent and keep my head phones on, like the unblessed one I am.
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
[GIFs via GQ]