If I'm missing out, I don't care - Keith Roulston editorial
Such is my ignorance of what’s fashionable in food (or anything else) that I had never even heard of the U.S. restaurant chain that caused great excitement in Toronto this week by opening its first Canadian outlet at Yorkdale Mall.
Apparently the opening of the Cheesecake Factory is a victory in the battle against climate change because it will save hungry Toronto addicts of the chain from emitting tons of carbon since they’ll no
longer be forced to drive across the border to get their fix. Such was the excitement that when the U.S. chain announced last spring that it would be opening in Toronto this fall, customers immediately wanted to know if they could make reservations.
In this age of abundance for most people in our western world, it seems to me the most powerful driver of human activity is the fear that we might be missing out on something that other people have.
This has always been a huge influence in Canada where people press their noses against their southern neighbour’s window and worry that things are more exciting there than here. Sure we can do without the gun violence – can feel downright superior about it in fact – but we can’t help feeling like the little sister or brother watching his older sibling doing “adult” things while we still have to be in bed at 9 p.m..
So, for instance, Toronto’s Canadian Football League team drew a less-than-capacity crowd in a small stadium when it qualified for the Grey Cup championship on Sunday while many football fans
stayed home and watched U.S. teams play on television because they feared Canadian football wasn’t good enough compared to the much-hyped National Football League.
Back in February Canadians even demanded to be able to see the U.S. ads during the Super Bowl game because these ads were the talk of the U.S. television shows we watch and people felt left out because we hadn’t got to see them when they were replaced by Canadian ads for broadcasts here.
This fear of missing out on something plays a big role in the addictiveness of the pervasive connected world of cell phones. Experts say organizations like Twitter and Facebook designed their applications to notify people when they receive a new message so they can’t help but pick up their phone and connect for fear they might be missing something.
Research has shown that many people suffer anxiety if they must be unconnected for any extended period of time. Go to the theatre and you’ll see that the first thing many people do at intermission is to check for messages on their phone which has been shut off for a whole hour. Going to the bathroom or getting a drink or snack can come after making sure they haven’t missed a critical message, such as pictures of a former schoolmate’s cat doing something cute.
The travel industry is growing as never before, no doubt partly because travellers send dozens of photos of the pyramids or the Great Wall of China to their friends back home who feel left out because they haven’t experienced seeing these landmarks in person. Even if they don’t book a vacation to the same location themselves, they may want to visit some other exotic spot so they can post photos to make their friends envious that they’re missing out.
Despite the excitement about the famous (except to me) Cheesecake Factory coming to Toronto, there’s no guarantee it will take the country by storm when we actually have our very own branch of the restaurant. Remember the excitement of Target coming to Canada? I’d barely heard of the big U.S. discount department store chain when it was announced it would be making Canadians the great gift of giving us our very-own Target stores after buying out Zellers. I think I may have visited the Canadian stores about twice before the company decided Canadians weren’t enthusiastic enough and pulled the plug. We were left with neither Zellers, the boring Canadian store, nor its supposedly exciting American replacement.
Remember when there was a huge buzz because Krispy Kreme doughnuts were coming north of the border? We’d been seeing characters on American TV shows talk about their addiction for the fat-laden doughnuts for years and finally we were going to see what was so good about them. There was even some talk that the arrival of the deep-fired American superstar might undermine Tim Hortons, the home-grown Canadian institution. It turned out that when we actually got to taste Krispy Kreme, Canadians weren’t so enthralled and the company retreated to a few locations here and there.
Maybe it’s a little like dreaming about a date with some unattainable guy or girl, then finally going out with him or her and finding out they’re an airhead. Sometimes you find you’re not missing out on anything at all.