At the weekend I was invited to stumble around the cathedral in the dark with a torch. Even though I do not have an active or fulfilling social life this did not sound like an appealing offer. On the one hand if I went I might be gifted with some amusing anecdote or perceptive insight that - unlikely, I know - would thrill and delight. On the other hand I could have spent a Saturday evening in the cathedral in the dark and still returned home without a shred of material.
I’m neither a risk taker nor a gambler by nature. Reader, I stayed at home and watched the 1944 version of Gaslight instead.
“Mrs. Boyer, you’re probably wondering what an all-American fellow like myself is doing in Edwardian England working for Scotland Yard?”
“Best not mention it and don’t bother putting on an accent please, Inspector.”
Rather than barking my shin on a pew, I feel like I might have stumbled on a new emotion. I have named it GOMO. It’s the opposite of FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. GOMO, Glad Of Missing Out, is not to be confused with GOMAD, a disordered eating practice disguised as a fitness protocol known as a Gallon Of Milk A Day. GOMO is something you can enjoy even if you are lactose intolerant.
GOMO is that smug feeling of not having to engage in human interaction. Relief at not struggling to make small talk. Dodging the shaming moment when you are witheringly informed that you are not supposed to return home from a dinner party with the item of food you went with. Even if, as in my case, it’s half a packet of digestive biscuits.
When I narrowly avoid a social function in which I will invariably make some sort of faux pas I am suffused with a feeling of GOMO. And it feels GOOD.
GOMO may be old news for an awkward dork such as myself but is it going to become part of that most fabled thing: the new normal? With many more people working from home, wearing pants with elasticated waists covered in ketchup stains, ordering dinner by app, communicating by text, avoiding the cinema where most people used to settle down for a good natter, will their social skills inevitably be eroded to the point of achieving GOMO?
If GOMO becomes as widespread as coronavirus then FOMO could become a thing of the past. Even after social events are back in circulation the general population could be so lacking in social graces that they no longer feel like they are missing out. FOMO will be banished forever. Perhaps. But I don’t suppose GOMO is as novel a phemonenom as I think.
I have a dim memory of a book I never read bemoaning the corrosion of social bonds in the US. Bowling Alone it was called. I am sure it is an insightful piece of sociology but I never understood the title. Why would anyone bowl alone? Bowling is one of the few angst-free social events that I can get behind.
Loud and bad pop music thunders over any awkward silences. Any notions of fine dining are thrown out the window in favour of a plate of chips*. Lights are low enough to disguise the ketchup dribbled down your crotch. And there’s the shared experience of wearing other people’s silly shoes, often in a size too big or too small for your feet. As long as everyone is as equally inept at bowling a good time can be had by all.
I’m Team GOMO but when it comes to bowling I feel the merest twinge of FOMO.
GOMO, look out for it on the New York Times Bestseller list somewhere below Bowling Alone but above Always. Be. Boiling.
Speaking of future bestsellers, I have reprinted and generally tarted up Dumped as a fancy new hardback. As I have remarked before, a hardcover is a true indicator of quality. Available now from my store. First published by Oni Press mumble-mumble years ago in co-ordination with the Turin Biennial (anything connected with a Biennial is also a guarantee of quality). In the end I never actually made it to Italy, but that’s another story.
Dumped has sat on the proverbial bricks in the proverbial shed rusting away until, like one of those Facebook videos of someone lovingly restoring an old Tonka toy (I’m a sucker for those for some reason), I have brought it back to life, added a lick of colour, polished the hub caps and generally given it the Pimp My Ride treatment it deserves. I have never seen an episode of Pimp My Ride but I am assuming it’s the same as when I stuck lollipop sticks between the spokes of the wheels of my Raleigh Chipper (not Chopper) when I was a kid? Well, the all-new Dumped is something like that.
Lollipop sticks not included.
*Or fries as they are sometimes known.