Fobo Is The Privileged New Reason Why You Can't Make A Damn Decision

If you struggle to make even the simplest of decisions, Fobo is here to help you understand why.

It's estimated that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions per day, ranging from both big and small. So it's fair enough to assume that most of us suffer some indecision at one point or another.

But Fobo or 'fear of better options' might explain exactly why you find it so hard, particularly when it comes to those minor choices like what you'll eat for lunch or which movie you'll watch on Netflix.

Fobo explains why we labour over those decisions that should be easy to make. It also at least justifies why you spent over an hour last Friday night while you were starving, trying to decide what you would order for dinner on Uber Eats (just me?).

It's the 'insidious twin' of Fomo or 'fear of missing out' and coined by the same person, US venture capitalist, Patrick McGinnis.

"It keeps you from committing to any choice in case another, more optimal opportunity comes along," he said on his website.

Step aside Fomo, Fobo is here now. Image: Getty

"Then, at the very last minute, you pick whatever works best for you, without considering the effects your behavior has on those who are impacted by your indecision."

Those who suffer from Fobo generally find themselves so overwhelmed by the possibilities of what the outcome of their decision could be, they hold back in making a choice or when they do, sometimes pull out.

McGinnis tied this back to our 'biology of wanting the best' and while the concept is not new, he said it has been amplified by technology and social media that has presented us with more options than ever.



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“Our ancestors a million years ago were programmed to wait for the best because it meant they were more likely to succeed,” he said, reported The Guardian.

McGinnis has been researching Fomo and Fobo for his latest and fourth book as well as his podcast. But while McGinnis said that Fobo can be 'crippling', it is also an issue most likely to be faced by the privileged.

Unlike Fomo, which can exist without a variety of social options at your disposal, Fobo occurs as a result of having too many options to begin with.

“The richer you are, the more powerful you are, the more options you have. That’s when you start to feel it,” he said.

While Fobo can be associated with being privileged, it can also lead to anxiety. Image: Getty

However while it may sound like having a lot of options is a good thing, it can lead to choice overload and result in making us feel anxious or even miserable.

McGinnis explained Fobo can be "destructive" and stems from a fear or unwillingness to let go, while Fomo is good because it pushes us to try new things.

In order to choose something you must let go of another thing and it’s the fear of having to mourn the road untaken. So we would rather not decide at all and keep out options open.

So what exactly can you do if you think you suffer from Fobo? McGinnis shared two helpful tips with the New York Times.

“For everyday things, I do what I call ‘Ask the Watch’. I whittle something down to two options and then assign each item to a side of my watch. Then I look down and see where the second hand is at that moments. Decision made. It sounds silly, but if you try it -- asking the universe -- you will thank me,” he said. 

“For the big things, I try to think like a venture capitalist. I write everything down on the topic- pros, cons, etc -- and I read it out loud. That process is basically like writing an investment memo for a VC investment, but in this case the investment is of your time, money, energy, etc.”

So there you have it, if you can't make a choice, sometimes it's better to just leave it to the wind.

Featured image: Getty