Cultures of Complaint in high school: FOGS (possibly the first in a series)

In my younger and more vulnerable years, I performed a private ritual whenever I went to a show or movie, and found myself in a less-than-ideal seat: I would furtively look around until I found somebody in a seat that was unequivocally worse than my own. Then I would relax, knowing I didn't have the worst seat in the house. 

I don't remember when I stopped doing this, but at some point it just didn't matter so much anymore. I also don't remember when it peaked, but I now suspect it was tenth grade. This phenomenon probably has a name already, but since I regard it as the defensive sibling of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), I'm calling it Fear of Getting Shafted (FOGS). 

FOMO is a phenomenon that, at its best, drives discovery and adventure. At its worst, it leads people to take stupid risks ("If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump to?" is a question about FOMO). My favorite story about FOMO comes from cultural critic, university teacher and Vietnam Vet Henry Allen, who told me that he always felt like he missed out on the sixties because he was in Vietnam, but a friend of his who was a radical activist told him the thing about the sixties was that even in the midst of a riot, he'd be wondering if there was a better riot a few blocks away. Fundamentally, FOMO puts you on the offense - it sends you down the street searching for a better riot. 

FOGS, on the other hand, is a protective instinct. Ponzi schemes are driven by FOMO, and FOGS is what tells you that they're probably too good to be true. But at its worst, it leads to a joyless life of endless suspicion of other people's motives. 

My favorite illustration of FOGS is an economic exercise called the "ultimatum game". Here's how HowStuffWorks summarizes it:

You're standing on the sidewalk with a friend, minding your own business, when a man approaches with a proposition. He offers you $20 in one-dollar bills and says you can keep the money, under one condition: You have to share some of it with your friend. You can offer your friend as much or as little as you like, but if your friend rejects your offer, neither of you get to keep any of the money. What do you do?
According to the "rational actor" assumptions of classical economics that no-one ever follows, you give your friend $1.00 and your friend grudgingly accepts it. But what tends to happen (at least according to HowStuffWorks, Wikipedia, and this article I found on Stanford's website) is that people tend to offer about $8.00 to their friends, and that offers below $3.00 tend to get rejected, leaving nobody with any money. 

Now, there's a lot going on here, but I think FOGS operates both in the offer of $8.00 ("I don't want to be a jerk, but I don't want to be the chump who walks away with less money") and the rejection of low offers ("I'd rather both of us walk away with nothing, than me be the only chump here").

FOGS is also one of the most powerful weapons in the Trump campaign - Trump constantly claims not just that Americans aren't well off, but that other people are giving us the shaft and laughing at us (in fact, as this Washington Post article shows, he's been doing this since the '80s, and getting great results).

Where I'm going with all this is that while FOMO tends to be the frame of mind most often associated with teenagers, I think FOGS is much more powerful, especially in large heterogenous groups (such as, just to pull an example out of the air, classrooms). 

FOGS is the ingredient that gets left out in discussions about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, because even if I feel intrinsically motivated to do something, a grade (or, even better, extra credit) is insurance that I'm not getting shafted, as well as (equally importantly) evidence to everyone around me that I'm no chump.