Why I’m Afraid, and Why You Are Too

My Great-Grandmother passed away when she was 96. Born in 1912, she lived through two world wars, the increasing popularity of cars, the Great Depression, the radio, the television, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, the invention of helicopters, international travel becoming accessible due to the increasing popularity of passenger jets, The Vietnamese War, Watergate, the Internet, the computer invention, 9/11, the Dot Com Boom – and that’s just the things off the top of my head.

Talk about seeing change. Granny, as I called her, had seen the entire world change – over 96 years. She witnessed technology revolutionize the world.

I’m nineteen. Born in 1996, I’ve been around the world more times than she ever did in her ten decades. I’ve made more friends across the world than she ever had. I’ve witnessed the world grow, change, and revolutionize – in a way only George Orwell could imagine in 1984.

All through technology that was never around during her time.

I often wonder, sometimes, if in the 1940’s, people looked forward to 2016 and could see us in hovercars, with inter-galatical travel and just dream of what we could do.

In my nineteen years, I’ve seen companies grow – and change the world – in a matter of months, let alone years. I’ve witnessed life-changing events unfold all online. I’ve spoken to my family on the opposite side on the planet, in a 5-inch device that fits in my palm.

My world has changed because of this technology. Apple, Google, Skype, Tesla, Uber – all of these companies have become an everyday aspect of our lives that we’re so accustomed to.

Yet, almost all of us live in a place of constant fear.

When you text someone you’re flirting with, and they don’t respond for an hour – “oh my God, what’s wrong?”

When your teenaged son doesn’t respond for twenty minutes to a FaceTime call – “my God. Call the Police. File a missing person’s report.”

I’ve grown up in a world where we’re constantly inundated with news, notifications, Instagram posts, Facebook comments, Snapchat responses, the latest iPhone was just released – and I’ve grown to realize we’re living in a world of fear.

When my friends are invited to three parties on Friday night – they don’t know which one to go to. So they go to all three. They’re afraid of missing out.

When I’d text a girl I was into – and she would read the text, but not respond, “FUCK! I’ve done something wrong.”

If I don’t respond to a message from my best-friend, he’ll message me to see if I’m okay.

Let’s take dating as an example.

With so many ways to meet people (Facebook, Tinder, okCupid, ChristianMingle, etc) – we’re inundated. I can join a Facebook Group and make ten new friends by the end of the hour.

But take texting someone – or calling them. What happens if you text, and don’t call? What happens if you don’t message them right away? What if they stalk you and find that photo of you with a pimple on your forehead?

And let’s just say you’re getting close to someone – and take this example from my life recently: one of my friends was having a really bad day. She wasn’t talking the way she usually was, and felt like she’d been hit by a cement trunk. I started fretting. Oh God, she’s not responding like I am. I’m talking to much. Fuck.

Or let’s say you’ve just had a date with a guy. You get home, after he’s dropped you home, and you’re already fretting. Do I text? Will he call me? Do I make the next move?

There’s so much pressure, and we’re so afraid of missing out.

Granny never would’ve had this problem. In the past, we would’ve gotten home from a date, and wait. Wait for him to call. As a guy, we’d wait to call her the next day. Sure, sometimes you’d be up all night wondering if the date went well.

But now? Now, we’re constantly checking Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat – and every other social media platform – to watch everyone’s movements. And suddenly, if they’re doing something without you, we get afraid. Jealous. Fear of missing out.

See, we’re all have fears. Fear of heights, flying, cockroaches – it’s a human survival instinct: fight or flight.

Fears keep us from running into a house on fire. It keeps us from killing ourselves.

But the fears that hold us back: fear of missing out, they hold us back.

With the our phone constantly beeping, with access to anyone in the world with a tap of a screen, we’re constantly attached. Attached to our work; to each other.

The question is: where will you draw the line? When will you disconnect?

In the 50’s, we could go for days without speaking to our friends before they’d come calling to check-in. Now, we’re lucky to go an hour without our phone buzzing.

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