Somewhere, right this very moment, someone is having more fun than you.
Making more money than you.
Doing something more important, with better friends, and a happier ending, than you. Or possibly just better at Words with Friends than you are.
You're missing out.
And somewhere, right now, something in your universe isn't right. There's something happening that will affect you, annoy you, make things not "all right."
A crisis is looming.
Of course joy is hard to find, even with all the leverage, assets and privileges we've got. We've set ourselves up to avoid it at every turn. Electronic media profits from connecting us, sure, but mostly it profits from amplifying emotions we don't want in the long run.
FOMO is the fear of missing out. It always existed of course, ever since we were in high school. As freshmen, we knew that some cool kid was at some party that we could have gone to, but didn't.
We've taken this far beyond a story told the next day over lunch, though. The supercomputer in our pocket, amplified by your choice of social media, brings FOMO right to you, wherever you are, with a mere vibration.
At the same time…
The lizard brain is on high alert to make sure that everything is okay. The lizard brain can't rest until it knows that everyone likes us, that no one is offended, that all graphs are ticking up and to the right and the future is assured. But of course, the future (and the present) isn't perfect. It can't be.
The combination of the two, the reverse schadenfreude of FOMO (the pain we may feel from others having good fortune) and the insatiable yet unreachable need for everything to be fine, conspire to make us distracted, unhappy and most of all, somewhere else.
I'm not talking about the dissatisfaction of the artist who wants to challenge herself and to reach new heights. That's an internal discussion, not one that's measured against the instant updates of the world's population.
The only place joy can be found is right here and right now. Everyone who is selling you dissatisfaction is working for their own selfish ends.