How To Create Fear Of Missing Out… And How They Did It In 1949

How To Create Fear Of Missing Out… And How They Did It In 1949

Do you ever feel the need to chime into an email chain? Or maybe the urge to comment on a social media post overtakes you?

That happened to me yesterday. Family duties kept me from my phone for about two hours. When I checked it again I found eighteen emails that began with the infamous “RE” in the subject line. The subject itself bored me. I still wanted to respond.

Six other people replied at least once during the chain. I spent the next five minutes pondering my response.

“Something edgy with a bit of humor…”

My actual response turned out quite mundane.

Fear of missing out compelled me to enter the fray and make my voice heard.

Yes, it really is a thing. The FOMO acronym might be new but the concept is timeless.

One of my favorite movies of all time played on a similar concept.

A Priest On A Bombing Raid?

12 O’Clock High is a movie from 1949 starring Gregory Peck. It’s a WWII drama that still holds relevance in leadership training programs today. In one scene Peck said his goal was to make it so  every man would fight just to go on a mission.

… The thing that will solve it is Pride. Pride in this group. The kind of pride that makes it the last thing they want to do is to get left on the ground.”  

Quote From: 12 O’Clock High (46:38)

He achieved that goal. At one point even clergy and an office jockey slipped onto a mission to share in the glory.

Although he never stated it, you can infer it from his quote. He created a culture of Fear Of Missing Out.

That’s the kind of mindset you want to create when it comes to persuasion. You want your prospect to think:

“If I say NO, I fall behind. I get left out.”

That feeling creates a strong pull to say YES.

How Do We Create FOMO?

Let’s pretend there’s a new restaurant in town. All your friends rave about it. You want to try it too. It’s just not a priority. Your friends talk about it in conversation. You feel like the odd one out.

That social pressure creates a natural desire for you to try this restaurant. The pressure is subtle. Nobody demands you eat there. They won’t eject you from the group if you resist. You still feel the pressure. You feel that urge to jump in and make sure you’re one of them.

The example mirrors the portrayal in 12 O’Clock High. The commander created a winning team. Pride ran high. It became contagious. They all craved a piece of the glory.

Both examples point back to the same principle. We all crave to sit at the cool kids table or be part of the in group (at least our vision of it).  Create a fear of being left behind environment. It makes your sales effort much easier.


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