FOMO at the buffet

There’s a buffet for dinner tonight. There’s a salad bar, two soups, and five or six different apetizer things. Then there’s the full selection of main courses. And finally, there’s the desert bar and the ice-cream station, which itself includes a further selection of sprinkles, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and other miscellany.

We can’t help ourselves. We feel compelled to grab a little bit (or a lot) of everything. If we were making something on our own, we’d usually be completely satisfied with a single plate of food for dinner. Here though, we end up walking back to our table with plateful after plateful of food.

And then, after the last bowl of ice-cream with sprinkles and chocolate and marshmallows is all but gone, we act surprised when we feel completely stuffed, and struggle to waddle out of the restaurant as we battle our carb-induced quasi-comatose lethargy.

Why do we behave like this? FOMO. Fear of missing out.

FOMO is a force of nature. It’s hard-wired into our brains. Give us multiple options, and throw in a few peers making decisions themselves next to us, and all kinds of instinct starts to kick in. We have to take a bit of everything, because we can’t stand the thought of someone else experiencing something that we had the opportunity to experience, but declined.

The preemptive anxiety we feel that urges us to minimise our downside completely thwarts our ability to focus on maximising the upside. Being aware of our bias towards FOMO will immediately improve the quality of your decisions, and the buffet is as good a place as any to practice.

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