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September 2020
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FOMO kills the Lazy Days of Summer

By Dan Pool
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    I am anxiously awaiting the lazy days of summer. I have been waiting on them for about 10 years and thought this could be the summer they returned. Judging by the thermometer, summer has arrived but no lazy days on the horizon.
    For those who don’t understand the difference in regular ole summer and the lazy days of summer:  The regular days of summer is the jam-packed, vacation-filled, crazy (and occasionally fun) period when your calendar has a colored event oval on every single weekend and most weeknights for the whole season.
    The lazy days of summer are those blessed, luxurious days when absolutely nothing happens in a small town like Jasper. The days when you have the freedom to cut the grass or go fishing or throw something on the grill; NOT try to cut the grass and take a quick dip to cool off before rushing to pick up something for the mandatory cook-out, which totally knocked out your plans for fishing.
    Alas, it looks like the summer of 2016 will go down as another hectic, fun-filled season of outings, events, happenings, trips and staycations that run solid from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
    In fact, to borrow a term from Hollywood, this will be yet another “blockbuster” summer. And therein is the leading culprit in the demise of the lazy days of summer – every summer has to be blockbuster to measure up with the images that flood our culture portraying an ideal summer. It has to be big and exciting and crowded, not idling away at your own house.
    Over the past decade, the American family has been convinced that there is something inherently wrong with spending days at home “doing nothing,” and letting kids figure out some way to entertain themselves – which solely revolves around cell service now.
    Perfectly illustrating the widespread cultural push for constant social activity consider FOMO. This is a texting abbreviation and recognized condition of the Fear of Missing Out. It is defined on Wikipedia as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.”
    We have replaced the seasonal pause after the school year ends with dozens of new ways to entertain ourselves that overlap every waking moment. From sports camps/summer leagues, to arts camps to more vacation options to home improvement projects, to festivals celebrating every conceivable  animal and food, there is always something vying for our time. And a certain pressure to conform, to not miss out.
    But if every weekend offers something special, it all becomes routine so that nothing is really enjoyed because so much is undertaken. You must have time to reflect in order to appreciate what you saw or did.
    The sheer unrelenting onrush of places you need to be and events you should attend leaves them all less special.
    In the middle 1900s, the single day for July 4th was a massive event for this town. It was massive and memorable because that’s all there was for public gatherings or entertainment. Not only did everyone come to town for it, everyone looked forward to it beforehand and then recalled it afterwards.
    Today, there are dozens of similar events and the celebration itself stretches over several days. The American public expects more than one day of excitement.
    We all must fight the FOMO and saturation of images that tell us we aren’t happy or successful unless we are the snazzy dressed family and friends having an epic day that is well documented on social media.
    You need to have  FOMO that you are missing out on a chance to disengage and relax during the summer. There is a benefit to squandering summer days by doing nothing exciting and now is the time for it.