Don’t let F.O.G.O. win!

April 1, 2021

Yesterday the US reached an incredible milestone: 150 million vaccine doses administered. 46% of the US population has received at least one dose and 16% is fully vaccinated. This means the end is in sight (YIPPEE!!!).  2021 will be the year we started living with COVID-19 instead of running from it.

As we attempt to move on one thing worries me: F.O.G.O. or Fear of Going Out. 

F.O.G.O is the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that we are putting ourselves and others at risk by attending in-person events while COVID-19 is circulating. 

Most of us are feeling F.O.G.O. to varying degrees. We have been told to socially distance, follow lockdowns, avoid crowded places, and wear masks for over a year now. The message is clear: if you don’t follow the rules people will die.  I weighed every meal, in-person meeting, chat, or social interaction against the risk of death for myself or my loved ones. Millions of people around the globe did the same. 

We developed collective social anxiety towards doing anything that would put us at risk.  We saw overrun hospitals, severely sick people on ventilators, and shortages of equipment to treat COVID. The disease is frightening and for the past year, it was reasonable and responsible to stay indoors and isolate.

But letting F.O.G.O. win is not the right thing to do anymore. 

In a matter of months, everyone who wants a vaccine will get one and the country will reopen. When that happens, we need to help society responsibly move on. We need to trust our scientists and the >90% efficacy vaccines they developed. We must help our economy recover by helping the industries that were hurt the most. We must reach out and heal our collective mental health.

I am not advocating for 100s of unvaccinated people gathering together or for an anti-mask movement. I am advocating for a stop on collective shaming of those that choose to walk outside without a mask, indoor dining bans, school closures even after the teachers and parents have been vaccinated, amongst others. 

There are appropriate levels of worry and we need to balance the behaviors that keep us safe with those that generate anxiety. As we look towards rebuilding we must not let F.O.G.O. win!