Meet your hidden enemy- FOBO

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  • The essence of the article is not technical
  • They’re my personal thoughts and isn’t based on a scientific theory

We all feel sometimes that things are moving at a ridiculously fast pace in our industry.
Every day, we hear about a new technology hype that we “MUST” adopt.
Blinked for a second? You are not up to date.
Your choice of a certain new technology can turn to old news by the time you finish implementing it.

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing bad with Progressivism, the exploration of new ideas and constantly looking for better solutions.
The problem starts when your motivation, judgment and decision-making are affected by the wrong reasons.

FOBO- Fear Of Being Outdated

FOBO is my take on the psychological term FOMO (Fear of missing out) and organically, both terms share a common idea where decision making and choices are being motivated by fear.

Self-determination theory contends that an individual's psychological satisfaction in their competence, autonomy, and relatedness consist three basic psychological needs for human beings. People with lower levels of basic psychological satisfaction reported a higher level of FOMO - FOMOfrom Wikipedia

In other words, lower levels of satisfaction of some psychological needs, such as the need to feel loved and appreciated, can lead to higher levels of FOMO.

Without having a scientific basis, I would say cautiously that the outlines of the FOBO and FOMO phenomena are similar.
Here are some common scenarios that can increase the level of FOBO:

  1. You hear the new young passionate developer talking about the next big thing in software architecture or DevOps.
  2. You meet colleagues’ in conventions and seminars discussing a new “MUST HAVE” technology and you find yourself secretly running Google / Bing search before anyone will notice your “Ignorance” and your “innovation driven reputation” will be torn into pieces (but only in your mind).

Although FOBO is natural and can be related to “the need of staying relevant”, even in other aspects of life such as art, sports, politics and even slang, it can become stressful over time.
This arguably has the potential to lead to irrational behavior.
In some cases it can even become CONTAGIOUS!

When you feel you are being “pushed away” into the “outdated” group, you get the urge of teleporting yourself to the “cool, tech aware guys” group and sometimes you do so by putting others in your position.

You should be aware of making FOBO motivated choices and behaviors that can have a negative impact on your domain and be counter-productive for the organization you are working for:

  • Adopting Immature bleeding-edge platforms and architectures due to “industry level” hype
  • Making rapid changes and constantly replacing existing tools for the sake of being updated
  • Arguing and dismissing what others have to say
  • Impose your FOBO on others just to eliminate yours

All of the above can be ineffective at best:

  • You can waste valuable resources on technologies that aren’t Production ready.
  • The context switch and transition taxes are not cheap, sometime it’s simply not justified


In the technological fast-paced environment of ours, it doesn’t take much to reach a point where you do not “know it all”.
You’ve got to remember not to panic since we all feel that way in some points of our careers, and your experience and appreciation will not disappear.
Responsible and rational choices are highly valued and reflect on your surroundings.
When you realize you do not - and cannot - know everything, you’re in a position to grow as an individual and as a team.