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Time for Moore: Cabin fever

Jane Turpin Moore mug
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If you have kids — heck, if you were ever a kid yourself — you know about FOMO.

That dreaded “fear of missing out” peaks in adolescence, when peer pressure is genuine and the belief that “everyone else is (or has)...” may truly feel like a matter of life or death — as in, “I’ll just DIE if I don’t get a pair of tan Levi’s corduroys,” or “But mom, EVERYONE is going to the party!”

Yeah, right.

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Presuming most reading this are adults, you have now lived long enough to realize the truth: “everyone” did not go to that party, “everyone” did not have the perfect clothes, car or boyfriend, “everyone” did not experience the perfect vacation.

But that was before social media.

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Okay, there used to be gossipy kaffeeklatsches, multi-party phone lines and newspaper society columns — envy-inducing in certain circles, but by definition the latter at least lacked the immediacy and ubiquitousness of, say, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat.

These days, unless we are supremely self-disciplined or part of the ever-shrinking minority of Americans (backlinko.com estimates that in 2022 a whopping 72.3% of U.S. adults is regularly active on one or more social media sites) who rarely scrolls a smartphone to creep on other people’s lives, it’s nearly impossible to look away.

The predictable result is jealousy, a sense of inadequacy and yes, FOMO.

Since we’re presently in the midst of a Minnesota summer, the current takeaway — especially over the July 4th weekend — is that “everyone” is at “their” cabin.

As if to verify this perception, streets are quieter, tickets for athletic contests and theater events are easier to procure, church attendance is sparse and you’ve been asked to check in on a neighbor’s cat for a fourth consecutive weekend.

See? “Everybody” is at the lake and you’re the only sad sucker stuck at home, sweating out the heat and humidity while slogging through the usual routines of work and household duties while sneaking in some grilled meat, sticky walks and back-patio sun-bathing when you can.

Whoa, there, partner. Let’s pause to examine the facts.

In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Revenue had 135,000 non-commercial seasonal recreational properties (in other words, “cabins”) on its tax rolls. (Please don’t ask me about the stats for the intervening six years; it’s summer, so let’s just go with the 2016 figures for now.)

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Of those 135,000 properties, roughly 80% are owned by Minnesotans. If my marginal math skills serve me, that means there are approximately 108,000 Minnesota-owned cabins. The 2020 U.S. census recorded Minnesota’s population as 5.6 million, and 108,000 is only 1.93% of 5.6 million.

Stay with me here. Considering that most cabin owners are connected with family members or friends, let’s generously say that each of those 108,000 cabins has 15 people who are associated with and/or benefit from the use of a privately owned cabin annually. Now we’re at 1.62 million.

Guess what? That tally still amounts to only 28.93%. If even a portion of my mathematical machinations is accurate, we’re looking at less than 30% of Minnesotans with ready access to a private cabin.

Therefore, “everyone” is not at “their” cabin. It might seem that way at times, but facts assure us it is not so. And why else would there still be dozens of mom-and-pop resorts, plus larger-scale ones like Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Fair Hills Resort in Detroit Lakes, Chase on the Lake in Walker or Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior in Grand Marais, if “everyone” was always at “their” cabin?

Forget the FOMO. You’re not the only one pining for the lengthy get away it seems “everyone” else is enjoying. Here’s to July, wherever you are!

Related Topics: MINNESOTA
Opinion by Jane Turpin Moore
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