Many of us use them several times a day without really noticing. And yet the way we behave in lifts, or elevators as they are known in the US, reveals a hidden anxiety.
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”
Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.
Is FOMO the defining anxiety of our generation?
There’s a word for my feelings right now: FOMO, the fear of missing out — that strange, jangly mix of unease, fear, and envy that results from knowing that you could be doing something more fun, more productive, or somehow more amazing at any given time. And whatever you’re not doing seems to have a way of being the thing you’re most afraid of missing.
Edvard Munch- Anxiety (1894)
Anomie [AN-uh-mee]: A sense of loneliness and anxiety; a state or condition characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people
The immigrant family experienced anomie in their new country.