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Life 101: Coping with FOGO – Fear of going out

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While you may be familiar with FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – a new phenomenon is now sweeping our country. FOGO – Fear of Going Out – is appearing, as businesses and establishments start to open up.

After being in COVID-19 quarantine for nearly two months, some folks will be emerging more cautiously. On the flipside, there are those who are chomping at the bit to get back into circulation. And those caught somewhere in the middle.

Getting our economy going again – and getting people back to work – is a priority. And so are the public health issues. Too bad there’s not an owner’s manual!

Baby Steps

FOGO is the inversion of FOMO, explains author Mark Manson. Those with FOMO have anxiety they may be missing out on something by staying in, while those with FOGO fear they may compromise their health by going out – at least temporarily.

When the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths consistently decrease, as we all eagerly anticipate, confidence will be built back. We’ve adapted our business meetings – and even family/friend gatherings – to ZOOM, Skype and FaceTime. Now, we’re able to tiptoe back out.

I’m just wondering how lingering doubts – and the habits we’ve formed during quarantine – will affect our judgment. There are those who say it’s too soon to reopen. And others who say we can’t stand the rising unemployment numbers – 36.5 million Americans at this writing. Levels not seen since the Great Depression are quite sobering. It may take a while, though, to ramp up our collective confidence – and achieve this tricky balancing act.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

On the social front, folks may weigh risks and benefits more closely. Will those birthday parties continue as “drive by” parades? I’ve actually found those quite endearing. Then again, we’re social animals. And there are definitely qualities that are lost in translation when we’re unable to connect directly.

You may find yourself on edge. Events and travel, for instance, come with lots of question marks. The Big Sky PBR has been voted “Event of the Year” by PBR bull riders for seven consecutive years (2013-2019). Will we get the chance to get an eighth this summer?


It’s a little early to see what new trends could emerge from this pandemic. Will companies opt for continued remote working and fewer buildings? Large venue events may reconfigure their delivery methods. I’ve actually enjoyed tapping into some of the virtual concerts. There’s something quite humbling about seeing Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Urban and Adele in their basements!

With predictions of future rounds of COVID-19 – perhaps with mutations – we’ll continue taking things a day and a week at a time. Especially since a vaccine and treatment options are down the road.


I’m holding the vision we’ll emerge with more gratitude when our freedoms are restored. And more compassion. Like the sentiment of thanking military men and women for their service, it looks like a greater respect is being developed for those who have kept things going for us. You may be taking the opportunity – as I am – to thank this new class of heroes for their service.  

We’ve all been affected by this great equalizer. As we emerge, let’s take our collective experience out into the world – and not forget its lessons.

Linda Arnold is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and Founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at  or visit for more information on her books.

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