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FOMO for baby boomers

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – is not just an addiction that affects millennials and Gen Z. We baby boomers might be able to commit to a social engagement way ahead of time, but if a new gadget or travel destination or stimulating discussion crosses our horizons, it’s a different matter altogether.

One of the most obvious ways baby boomers are prone to FOMO is in their rapturous consumption of podcasts, and I’m struck by this because podcasts are not a temptation for me. (Put me in the fiction section of a bookshop, however, and it’s a whole different story!)

I have no objection to podcasts in principle. I reckon they’re a great idea – the best and brightest and funniest and most entertaining or penetrating minds are easily available to anyone with internet connection and a device. You don’t have to be rich or privileged enough to go to university to have access to such pearls. It’s an example of the democratization of learning and knowledge that is one of the good things about the internet.

I’m just not interested. I have so many friends and acquaintances – all of whom I respect – who are enormously into podcasts and seem nonplussed when I say I’m not.

The thing is, I don’t want any more information in my head. I read the newspaper each day, and just taking in and assimilating most of that is more than I can handle. We live in the ‘Information Age’, and information is power, so the saying goes. Up to a point that’s true. But I suspect that at some point the flood of information with which we are bombarded every day of our lives, starts to do other, less helpful things.

  • It immobilizes and disempowers. If I hear too much about the dire things happening in Melbourne, let alone the rest of the world, I feel I can do nothing whatsoever to be useful, because the problems are too vast, too entrenched, too complex.
  • It saps creativity. To be creative, human minds need down time, need, dare I say it, boredom.
  • It lessens wonder. Walking along without being plugged into a device, however enticing that may be, stops you seeing the everyday wonders strewn in our paths, even in the city.

In what is left of my life, I would like not to have more facts in my head. Rather, I long to be able to reflect on life’s facts, feelings, griefs and wonders more slowly, more deeply.

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Reader Comments (6)

The handful of podcasts I have listened to have been via the ABC via my phone via my earplugs via falling asleep. Some are quite good (The Fitzroy Diaries by Lorin Clarke, daughter of John; Word Up, about Indigenous languages; a Clare Wright series about particular photographs, including one by Lisa Bellears), some are rather dull. I learnt that just because something is a podcast it doesn't mean it's good. I haven't dived into the deeper, fathomless oceans of podcasts out beyond the ABC, partly because there are still books from Christmas I haven't read, partly because of the reasons you list above.( People tell me Stereo Stories would make a good podcast or good radio - and podcasts are effectively 21st century radio.)

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVin

Agree with you Clare, too much info already, More time for reflection, and there is plenty to reflect on in a life.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjanie bell

My son - Joel Townsend - does a great series of Podcasts called 'In that Case': about significant community Law cases - really worth listening to.


March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRon Townsend

I find the evident affection, friendship, good humour and lively conversation between Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales in their podcast 'Chat 10 Looks 3' is my 'go to' place for an antidote to the depressing and dispiriting news. The companion Facebook page also demonstrates just how kind-hearted and generous most Australians actually are, even to complete strangers. We yearn for connection, and love to respond with kindness, compassion and humour.

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie Pearce

A useful concept here is that of "opportunity cost" - what opportunity is lost during the time spent listening. I'm right with you on this, Clare, quite apart from the fact that I don't have time to listen to more!

March 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeoffrey

Podcasts are not my thing, but like you Clare, a bookshop is another thing entirely. A couple of years ago my husband and I visited the National Library in Canberra.
I was so overwhelmed by the experience I almost couldn't speak at all. Truly amazing. We visited for an exhibition featuring a hand painted book of prayers centuries old. Books are my 'thing' and I do think it is almost an addiction.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

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