TORONTO—Sitting on her couch, her butt deepening the imprint formed by 13 months of pressure in the exact same spot on the cushions, Toronto resident Jessica opens up her laptop to check if she qualifies yet for the covid-19 vaccine. After scrolling through the list of medical conditions and the designated hotspot zip codes, she learns that she must continue to wait for her first dose.
With a sigh, she opens up Instagram and begins scrolling through vaccine selfie after vaccine selfie from her American friends, her jealousy intensifying with each smiling #modernababe and #pfizerpfriends post. The type of envy she’s feeling is relatively new, a product of the pandemic, much like the sensation of panic upon stepping outside and realizing you’ve forgotten your mask and disgust upon seeing a stranger’s nose exposed in public.
“We’re calling this new phenomenon Vaccine FOMO,” says Dr. John Johnson, a researcher at Stanford University. “Instead of missing out on plans like bar crawls or brunches, the fear is missing out on the immunity offered by the covid-19 vaccine—and then, by extension, the possibility of being able to attend plans. In places where vaccine rollout is slow, the fear is very much a reality.”
While temporarily distressing, Vaccine FOMO (otherwise known as VFOMO) is not life-threatening. Side-effects include starting wistfully out the window, hate-liking Instagram posts, and briefly considering taking a trip to Florida.
“I still don’t get how the American healthcare system pulled one over on us,” grumbled Jessica.
Dr. Johnson warns that even those who are partially vaccinated are still subject to Vaccine FOMO. New York City area woman Chelsea, who has only received her first Moderna shot, reports experiencing VFOMO when she sees her friends Insta story from inside restaurants or in groups of more than two people.
But there is one silver lining.
“At least it’s a nice change of pace from regular FOMO,” admits Chelsea. “Now, when I see all my friends hanging out without me, I know why I wasn’t invited.”
She clarifies, “Plus, not having to go through the internal battle of wanting to stay in vs. not wanting to miss out has actually done wonders for my mental health,” she says, before adding with a knowing nod, “I’m a Libra.”
When reached for comment, Chelsea’s friends clarified that she was not invited to their last outing at the park because she is, in fact, annoying.
“We thought she got Johnson & Johnson weeks ago,” admits her friend Sarah. “We just find the way she blames her problems on her zodiac sign extremely grating.”
Image: Lucas Ottone / Stocksy
Once upon a time, the concept of leaving your house and actually doing something — anything — seemed absurd. Sure, we used to be well-versed in the art of rallying all weekend, our false lashes hanging on for dear life. But once the pandemic hit and everyone and everything shut down, we got realllll comfortable with the fact that not going anywhere was kinda… nice?
So, for over a year we’ve all just been sitting inside with our vibrators, ordering way too much food and begging our exes not to change their Netflix passwords. Other than that week or so when the world seemingly discovered Zoom and you had to go to virtual happy hours with everyone you know, plans were just a far-off, abstract idea. We agreed to anything because honestly, it wasn’t like it was actually going to happen.
Except now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, seeing friends and family once again is becoming a reality. Which is great… except for the fact that you made a lot of bullsh*t plans with a lot of bullsh*t people that you have absolutely no intention on keeping. Here’s what you agreed to, and a few ideas for getting out of this mess:
10. Drinks With Your Coworkers
For over a year you’ve been working on your couch, but after the company-wide email went out saying everyone was expected back in the office, the invites started rolling in. Happy Hour! Team Building! Draaaaanks! Whether you like your coworkers or they’re pesky annoyances you try to forget exist after you log off at 5pm, the barrage of “let’s go out after work” invites are a given as soon as the world opens back up. Back when you replied to those requests while sitting at home with acne cream on your face, it didn’t feel like they would actually happen. But now that the time is here here, you’re realizing you might actually have to interact outside of work with these people after not physically seeing them for over 12 months.
How To Get Out Of It: You can’t really. You work together. You sh*t in the same room. You can put it off as long as possible, but eventually, you’ll have to give in and go out with them. Sure it sucks, but out of all the “plans” you made, it’s the least offensive. Just make sure to schedule it on a day you have a time restraint (“one drink because I have to help my neighbor? with her printer??”) so you can down your vodka soda and peace TF out ASAP. It’s that or quit your job, so like, the choice is yours.
9. Brunch With Your Frenemies
Did you love them pre-covid but after seeing their idiotic IG posts for the past year you’re over them, or have they always been a little sh*tty? Chances are you have a few toxic friendships that need to be scrubbed, but that didn’t stop you from making “when the pandemic is over” plans with those a-holes. Now that things are “normal,” they expect you to join them for carbs and complaining. It’s not that you hate them, it’s just that you realized life was maybe better without them?
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you’re ready to cut this group loose, they’ll eventually guilt you into brunching. Wear your biggest sunnies so they can’t see your eye rolls and chose a spot with bottomless mimosas. If you’re going to endure a few hours with the friends you low-key despise, you might as well be wasted for it.
8. Dinner With That One Annoying Couple
Whether you’re coupled up or expected to third wheel, you keep getting invites from that one couple you can’t seem to shake. Perhaps they’re college friends who turned corporate or your friend and her obnoxious boyfriend, but the duo just won’t take the hint that the idea of breaking bread with them makes you want to die. Sure, you could just keep bailing, but if there’s any part of you that wants/needs to keep that relationship afloat, you know it’s only a matter of time before they choose a pretentious restaurant and expect you to give them a bite of your entree.
How To Get Out Of It: It’s honestly kind of embarrassing that they haven’t figured out you don’t want to hang, but that’s a prime example of why they’re so frustrating to be around. Still, if they’re true friends who turned lame, a coworker you can’t ignore, or a pal you love with a partner you hate, you don’t want to totally jeopardize things. Luckily, claiming to be on a strict diet might be the key to getting out of a meal. Say you’re working with your doctor and can’t eat X, Y, and Z, so dinner is out. Promise to reconnect once your cholesterol (wink) is at a healthy level (wink, wink), and just make sure not to post your drunchie food the next time you have a fry craving.
7. Partying With Your Old High School Pals
When you were stuck in your tiny apartment with no one to talk to other than your house plants, you found yourself reconnecting with your old friends from school. Ancient pictures resurfaced, memes were sent, and after your ten-year high school reunion got canceled, you all agreed that you needed to get together ASAP. Now that ASAP is here, you realize you’d rather leave the past in the past and keep those relationships where they belong: in high school.
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you live in your hometown (my condolences), timing and scheduling are on your side here. I mean, what are the odds that all of you will agree on a weekend, book flights, and get together? Slim. So the only real option is to meet up around the holidays, but after a year of family events were canceled, your parents are officially your “get out of plans without looking like a total dick” card. Say you’d love to get together and then once you’re in town, throw your family under the bus with “my mom keeps guilting me” or “grandma forgot to tell us she was coming by for dinner.” It sucks but, you know, they’re family *humble shrug.*
6. Coffee With Your Internet Friend
Whether she’s a friend of a friend who slid into your DMs or you connected in a Facebook group and started chatting, you’ve officially landed yourself an internet pal. One thing led to another and a few casual conversations became a passing plan of meeting up IRL after Covid. Which means you agreed to go awkwardly hang out with a stranger whose messages you sometimes ignore because the idea of actually being able to leave your house someday sounded less ludicrous than going on a platonic first date with a social media rando.
How To Get Out Of It: It really sucks to be ghosted, but that’s the beauty of social media. If the person has no ties to you, stop answering/opening their messages or even go so far as to block them. There’s probably a reason you don’t actually want to meet up with them. If, however, they run in your circle or there’s the possibility of seeing them again, you might want to be a little less bitchy. Keep putting off the actual coffee date until they get the hint, or destroy their spirit and tell them you’re not that into an IRL relationship with them. The truth hurts, but at least then they’ll stop sending you TikToks you’ve already seen.
5. Shopping With An Acquaintance
Is she a friend? Sort of. Do you know her middle name? No. Do you genuinely enjoy spending time with her? Also no. But again, she’s sort of a friend and somehow you both landed on the idea of getting together to go shopping. Like, in public. Back when you agreed to the idea, the thought of perusing shelves instead of Amazon sounded so absurd, you said yes without thinking because it wasn’t like it was ever going to happen. But alas, stores are open, you’re both vaccinated, and she’s trying to schedule a time to get together. Even though you’ve never hung out with her 1-on-1 (and never really had the desire to TBH), she seems determined to spend an afternoon shuffling around stores and making forced small talk.
How To Get Out Of It: This is a tricky one. On one hand, you don’t want to go shopping with this person. On the other hand, ghosting feels like a non-option, especially if they’re friends with your other friends. Say you’re trying to save money, turn the shopping date into drinks, and drown out the awkwardness with shots and sh*t-talking. Everyone knows the pathway to a new bond is paved with bottom-shelf liquor and newfound mutual hatred.
4. Manis With Your Mother-In-Law
It’s been a long year, but one of the very few perks was getting out of those obligations with the in-laws. Unless you love the family you married into (liar), the thought of spending some extended 1-on-1 time with your MIL is probably causing you some serious angst. You’d humor her calls and texts and gushed about how you couldn’t wait to get together with her, but now that she’s vaccinated, it’s clear this wasn’t idle chitchat. She’s sending you nail design Pinterest boards, photos of cats in salon chairs, and is continuously asking your S.O. why you won’t call her back. Did you not get her seven-minute voicemail?
How To Get Out Of It: I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting your nails done with someone you don’t like chatting with. You’re just sitting there for a very extended period of time with nothing to do other than talk. You can’t bring a book or scroll social without looking like an asshole, but you’re 100% certain you’ll run out of stuff to talk about before the clippers even come out. The only way to get out of this is to say you’re not visiting the salon due to health concerns (Mold? Germs? Covid still? You decide), and would rather just paint your nails the next time you get together. Grab a few bottles of the fastest dry polish you can find and tell you S.O. to stay in the room while you give your MIL the sloppiest mani ever. She’ll feel like she’s getting that mother-daughter bonding moment and as long as you have some polish remover to get rid of the lime green mess she made on your hand, you’ll be set.
3. The Cross-Country Visit To See The Friend You Talk To Once A Year
Around the time when everyone was Zooming each other for happy hours, game nights, and *gasp* virtual bachelorette parties, you casually reconnected with an old friend who went MIA after moving away post-college. When she left for work (or was it to follow her boyfriend’s work? Wait, does she still have a boyfriend?) you both promised to keep in touch, but that quickly went to sh*t when real life got in the way. With covid, however, you had the chance to drunkenly DM, and now she’s wondering when you’re going to come see her and her new baby, whose name is escaping you at the moment.
How To Get Out Of It: There’s nothing worse than being roped into an expensive trip you don’t actually want to take (looking at you, bridal showers, weddings, and baptisms), but luckily, this one is fairly easy to get out of. There’s a good chance she doesn’t actually expect you to pack a bag and take a four-hour flight to see her, but if she does, hit her with a “times are hard, sh*t is expensive.” It’s not technically a lie because last I checked, times are hard and sh*t is expensive. If that doesn’t work, offer to host her at your home instead, and hope to God she too, decides to flake.
2. Toxic Weekend Retreat With Your Estranged Family
Awww! Your aunts, uncles, and cousins were so sad you didn’t see them this year, but they get it! You’re just a liberal sheep who believes in science. Even though they all masklessly got together numerous times, you were easily able to opt out. Now that you’re vaccinated and slowly starting to post bar pics on Insta, your family is making it clear that they’re dying to see you so they can ask you probing questions, question the validity of your job, and gaslight you into oblivion. You know, like the good old days!
How To Get Out Of It: Extended family is super tricky because, on one hand, they’re family. But on the other hand, you disagree with them about everything, and you honestly don’t even know how to spell half of their names. The problem is, no matter how sh*tty sitting around a cabin with people who still call you “kiddo” sounds, you kind of have to go unless you want to
get written out of the will look like a dick. The only way to get out of it is to fake a work trip or wedding and make it clear how sad you are to be missing the big reunion. Sure they’ll talk sh*t about you, but what else is new?
1. Accomplishing Those Lofty Personal Quarantine Goals
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Sure, you made a lot of plans with a lot of people during the pandemic, but what about the plans you made for yourself? You know, the mission to really concentrate on your health during quarantine? Or what about the novel you were going to write? Or that new job you were going to get? Weren’t you supposed to have abs by now? You made a lot of promises to yourself and now that the excessive amount of “you time” is coming to an end, it’s clear: You didn’t accomplish sh*t.
How To Get Out Of It: Letting yourself down is the worst, but if you think about it really hard, did you actually think anything was going to change? I mean, after doing that ab video one time, did you ever try it again? And you went on LinkedIn once, but quickly left after seeing all the thirsty DMs from old men wanting to ~connect.~ Sure, you bought a lot of cute note pads to write in, but did inspiration ever strike? Nope. And while everyone else might not understand, at least you can cut yourself some slack for flaking.
Images: Autri Taheri / Unsplash; Giphy (9); betches / Instagram
What’s the better part about getting the vaccine—protection from a potentially life-threatening virus, or social media validation? It’s a real toss-up. Thankfully, with today’s hottest Instagram trend being a selfie holding up your vax card (that might get your identity stolen), you don’t have to choose. Get ready, because all that rapid clicking at 3am on the Department of Health website will finally pay off in some sweet, sweet Instagram likes!
Unfortunately, there’s nothing worse (aside from the soreness, mild fever, and general fatigue) than snapping your best needle stabbing action shot before they rush you off to the 15-minute observation station and not getting the requisite double-digit likes on your pic. If you got the covid vaccine and didn’t document it for the sake of your own narcissism, are you even immune? Don’t be too hard on yourself—if you’re like many of us, you haven’t taken a bangin’ (or even acceptable) selfie in 13 months, and you’re probably out of practice. Luckily, you have one more shot (no pun intended) to nail it. Unless you got Johnson & Johnson, then you’ll just have to console your lack of Instagram likes with your less mild side effects. Actually, if you got J&J, best not to publicize that information at all.
Here are some selfie-taking best practices you may have overlooked in your initial quest to thirst trap with your exposed shoulder.
Plan Your Outfit
If the most thought you put into your vax ‘fit was wearing short sleeves as per the department of health’s recommendations, you really f*cked up big time. Assuming you give a sh*t about other people since you are getting the vaccine in the first place, this appointment is probably your biggest social outing in a good six months (park hangs notwithstanding, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that wearing a bikini top and denim shorts to your local Walgreen’s might not go over great). Remember all those pieces of cloth held together by thread sitting in the back of your closet? It’s time to shake the mothballs off them.
The good news is that a by-product of us all being cooped up inside is that we’ve all but forgotten normal social conventions when it comes to dressing. Is anyone going to side-eye you for wearing heels and a club dress to the mass vaccination site? Only because they’re mad they hadn’t thought of it first. Think outside the box! The cold shoulder look is overdone, what other unexpected body parts can you expose? It should go without saying that your collarbone will be basking in the sun, but has your underboob gotten any love lately? How about your obliques? That spot where your butt connects to the thigh? The area behind the knees? This is the time to really go wild.
Do Your Hair
You know, those things growing out of your head that you’ve been neglecting for the past 13 months? Time to apply some hot tools to those bad boys. It seems absurdly extra to give yourself a blowout with beachy waves to get jabbed in the arm by an overworked nurse, and it is, but the reality is that we’re too late in the vaccine rollout for you to get a significant number of likes by simply brandishing the little card on your IG feed. It’s time to do something big to set yourself apart, even if that means exposing your extreme vanity in the process. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch the eye of that probably-buff-not-at-all-scary National Guard guy in the corner.
Put On Eye Makeup
You know, those ball-shaped things in your head under which more bags than you’d find in a Louis Vuitton store have been growing for the past year-plus? You’re working with limited real estate with the mask and all (lipstick is out of the question, unless you want to look like a certain clown with a penchant for chaos and destruction) so you need to make it count where you can. Remember your liquid eyeliner? No, I know you don’t remember how to apply it, but do you at least recall the existence of such an item? Good—start practicing drawing a straight line. But don’t stop there! This is the time to do something experimental, like what you’ve been seeing on beauty TikTok. Paint the Mona Lisa on your eyelids—what else do you have to do?
Don’t Forget The Nail Polish
Since the pandemic robbed most of us of the opportunity to meet someone special, you likely won’t be showing off your left ring finger anytime soon. But you know what you will be showing off? The thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand as they pinch the little piece of card stock that indicates that you are less of a menace to society. You don’t want to be doing that with the same sad, raggedy looking nails, do you?
So you’re not pulling your weight solo. Maybe your 400 followers are sick of seeing just your face. And honestly, can you blame them? Your face is… fine, for sure, but it hasn’t changed much. It might be time to switch it up. Can you bring a dog with you for your vaccine appointment? Okay, so I have no idea. Forget the dog—can you get the person administering the shot to begrudgingly look into your iPhone camera? Couple that with a self-serving caption about how you’re doing this for the frontline workers, when really we all know you’re just itching to black out inside a sports bar on Football Sunday, and you should be set.
Lighting Is Everything
The rules of selfie-taking are simple and finite, and no amount of presets you drunkenly bought off an influencer or Adobe Lightroom edits can make up for sh*tty lighting. Unfortunately, you can only do so much in the back room of a CVS. It would be totally weird to bring a right light with you… or would it? I mean, you have 15 minutes to kill while they monitor you to make sure you don’t go into anaphylaxis.
Maybe Try A Weird Hat?
Have you considered pulling out all the stops? A weird hat? A slogan tee? A mask with a picture of a mouth on it? Those colored extensions girls wear to music festivals? A face tattoo? When it comes to using modern medicine to further your own Instagram popularity, there is no such thing as too over-the-top.
Remember, as we get later into the vaccine rollout, you’ll need to get more creative if you want your run-of-the-mill post-Pfizer photo to stand out. Sorry, but if you wanted to be the first in your friend group to put up a #vaxcitybitch selfie, maybe you should have gone to med school.
Images: Vitalii Kuznetsov /Shutterstock.com