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World No Tobacco Day: Have you ever faced FOMO on cigarette breaks?

Trinaa Prasad | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

Pretty sure the headline may cause smokers to puff hysterically in distress. Don't, though. Let me explain. This is an account of something I have personally experienced. My story is not your story. Every human/work place/hostel/college is different. What I may have experienced may not be true for you or your friends and that's all right. #BreatheInBreatheOut

FOMO. Meaning Fear of Missing Out. Most of us have experienced it, even if we're slightly fuzzy about what comprises FOMO. I do have a fear of missing out, but not the kind you might expect.

A Prologue to This Prolix

Being a non-smoker in a world and a profession heavily dominated by chain-smokers is lonely business.

Scoff if you will, but it is the truth. Non-smokers live in fear of sometimes missing out on 'bonding' at work or college at the hands of those who do.

Six years ago in journalism school, I experienced FOMO for the first time. I didn't know that restlessness I felt had a name because Buzzfeed hadn't been launched yet. But every time I saw a group of people step outside to smoke, I had come to expect them to have finalised group assignment plans by the time they came back.

Remember that episode from FRIENDS where Rachel starts smoking just to keep up with her boss and colleague because they would discuss work and assignments behind her back? What had seemed ludicrous when I first saw it, is a tad less funny now. This, is FOMO over smoking. Fear of missing out because people who smoke together, bond together.

Butt, is FOMO Real?

To have class assignments and division of work discussed over a shared puff or several, struck me as odd, annoying, and most importantly, unfair.

It seemed to give smokers a bit of an advantage. I didn't voice my concerns back then because I firmly believe in bottling up my emotions till the point of saturation and then writing about them a few years later.

Thankfully, like all other things, that phase also passed. And the only issue that remains unsolved is the mystery of how I got over it. Was I because I adjusted better to those around me? Or because I ran out of flying ducks to give? I guess I'll never know. Do I still experience FOMO over 'cigarette bonding'? No.

Is it FOMO that causes so many to take up smoking when in the company of smokers? Probably. Is FOMO over smoking even a real thing? YAS. It is about as real as the lung cancer it causes.

Happy World No Tobacco Day, folks. Stomp out that butt please.


Edited by Blassy Boben

First published: 31 May 2016, 2:45 IST