I remember when I was first introduced to en passant and after the initial shock, denial and eventual aquiescence to the expanded rule-set and spectrum of possibility of that great game of Chess, I could never quite dispel that lingering paranoia that at any moment someone might reveal some other mischievous axiom of which my prior ignorance would indelibly, socially and interpersonally mark my exile, foolishness, irrelevance and failure. This, of course, reflects upon more than just that particular game of tokens and indicates something of the endemic flexibility of meanings or narrative threads in which we can observe precisely those unbounded rule-sets of meaning-making and narrative construction that, for all their utilitarian value and occasional beauty or profundity, might also leave us all at times constantly second-guessing what unexpected semantic trickery the world might spring upon us at any moment.
In a world undergoing rapid cultural or sociotechnical change and acceleration, it may be something of an inevitability that vast numbers of human beings find themselves swept up in the stochastic metamorphosis and unpredictably self-altering rule-sets and language-games in which we find ourselves embedded. That insecurity we might all to some extent feel when confronted by the unceasing semantic confusion and accelerating complexity of interdependent and evolving rule-sets and language-games drives us to each aspire to follow the buzz and hum of communication closely, acutely aware of change and difference (- a certain fatigue or exhaustion becomes inevitable in this context). At any moment, a significant personal-self-invalidating systemic rupture or discontinuity could occur and for all the distributed, networked nature of any such a seismic cultural or symbolic event – it is that awareness of the relentless sum and cumulative effect of so many ongoing microscopic metamorphoses that has us all on edge. It is not even as though we need be self-consciously aware of this systemic self-surveillance and implicit paranoia: it may actually be something of an autonomous emergent property of that contemporary psychological subjectivity present in hyper-connected information spaces such as those we are embedded in and whose life and activity we exist in as constitutive and reflexive, fundamental elements or notionally atomic entities.
In play here might not be a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) so much as it is a Fear Of Being Left Behind, of missing some vital phylogenetic, semantic step in cultural evolution and of thereafter finding ourselves abandoned to the periphery; socially and reproductively redundant, semantically sterile, meaningless and alone.