Monday, July 01, 2019

Fear of Fear of Missing Out

I didn't go to Glastonbury. I've never been to Glastonbury (the festival, at least) and have no desire to attend the festival.  I never have.  I've plenty of friends who have attended and enjoyed it, and other festivals, over the years, but I'm afraid that festivals were never part of my youth.  They never appealed to me.  They never will.  Which is all fair enough -I don't begrudge my friends' enjoyment of such things or, indeed, that of anyone else who likes them.  Yet the media seem to see Glastonbury as one of those things that everyone wants to see - to not attend it or watch it is an act of cultural deprivation.  I'm not just talking about the wall-to-wall coverage on the BBC over the weekend, but also today's Guardian, whose journalists seem to think that every middle aged Guardian reader's fantasies involve trying to rekindle their youths by attending the festival.  You know, I really could do without the whole of the G2 supplement being taken up with this sort of bollocks.  Like I said, Glastonbury was never a youthful ambition of mine, but more than that, I really don't need recaps of something I wasn't interested in continually shoved in my face for days afterward.  I'm not the only one, it seems.  I happened to hear a bit of Radio One this afternoon, where they seemed to be intent upon reliving the whole weekend, even though it was less than twenty four hours ago, and a surprising number of listeners were voicing opinions similar to mine.  And they were all of the age group that is meant to be interested in Glastonbury.

But this isn't some kind of 'grumpy old man' rant about the preponderance of 'youth culture' in the media.  What bothers me is this idea that 'Fear of Missing Out' is a real thing - that there are just so many amazing things gong on out there that people are in perpetual danger of missing them and that it is the media's mission to keep us up to date about it all so that we don't feel left out.  At least, this seems to be the idea that grips media types.  The type of people who do spend their time keeping up with all this stuff, who spend their time telling us how this TV series or that currently showing on some obscure streaming service is the next big 'must see' thing.  The problem is that they assume that everyone who works outside of the media (ie, the majority of us) are just as interested in these things.  I don't think we are, I'm certainly not.  We don't spend our time fearing that we've missed out on something because we don't have the right subscription to have seen, say, Game of Thrones.  It's only a TV series, for God's sake.  Your life won't be fundamentally changed whether you saw it or not. 

I don't think I've seen any of the 'must see' TV series of recent years.  Even when they've been on free-to-air TV.  I find that my time is otherwise occupied.  (I have seen some episodes of a couple of those streaming series when they turned up on free-to-view channels - they were OKish, but I'm afraid they simply didn't grip me enough to want to watch more).  Yet the media persist in bombarding us with the latest 'news' about whatever the 'big thing' du jour is, whether it be a TV drama or a reality TV show like Love Island.  It's relentless.  No matter how hard I try, I can't escape it.  I end up knowing things about Love Island contestants even though I've never seen it.  I just wish the media would grasp the fact that anyone interested in these 'events' have already seen them or, in the case of Glastonbury, either been there or watched the live TV coverage.  It's got to the stage where I dread this events as they roll around, not because I dislike them, but because I know that the media is going to keep shoving them down my throat for weeks afterward.  Look, you don't need to keep on telling the rest of us about them - we really don't feel that we missed out as we weren't actually interested in the first place.

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