Part 1: The FOMO Problem and JOMO Solution: In Part 1 of this two-part series, I explore:
- The fear of missing out (FOMO)
- The ways that overuse of social media can reinforce this FOMO
- The benefits of the joy of missing out (JOMO)
Part 1 defines the problem and urges remediation of it. In Part 2 of this series, I describe three concrete steps to help you face and control FOMO and develop a lifestyle that creates JOMO. To check how you are doing with the sane use of social media and related technologies, periodically refer back to Part 2 to see areas you’ve slipped back to old patterns and to renew your efforts.
In addition to our mission of helping consumers to protect their online privacy with technology and knowledge, we at Presence Global also promote the wise use of social media so that technology enhances positive experiences and expands the possibilities for human happiness. Therefore, my fellow bloggers and I write articles about the less tangible things, for example, the human mind and emotions.
The developments in social media and other technologies available to consumers quickly outpaced serious questions about the potential pitfalls of these technologies—if we even bothered to ask what the downsides of these technologies could be. Therefore, in addition to providing you with the technology and knowledge to protect your privacy and support each other in distressing times, we are creating blog posts that encourage you to protect your sanity and enhance your enjoyment of life and that of your friends family, and others.
“Years ago, we used the internet to escape reality. Now we use reality to escape the internet.”
The pervasive use of social media technology has created holographic worlds. In these worlds, we gaze into our magical devices to see what our friends are doing at any time—but is this always a good thing?
Maybe. If your use of social media leads to more than short-lived FOMO, this is an issue to investigate. I believe that FOMO has become a significant obstacle to our inspiration, our appreciation of what we have and who we are, and our overall quality of life. Science is starting to examine the dangers that lurk in the overuse of social media.
IMO frequently exists in many social media habits and online experiences— in today’s world even if we don’t realize it. FOMO can be sneaky and have different guises. Every moment that FOMO occupies our mind, the real world is passing by us. Every moment that FOMO occupies our mind, we have not engaged participants in life.
Fear has a powerful basis in not knowing what is, and fear reinforces this not-knowing by impelling the mind to draw in—to shrink—into the psychological posture of survival mode. Fear almost always comes from imaginary or potential losses or harm at some time in the immediate or distant future. When you hear a strange sound outside your home at night or see an unclear shape in the dark, the unknown and its assumed threat is an essential ingredient of irrational fear—it’s not yet a rational fear while it remains unknown.
Are my neighbors from another country (or religion) plotting against my family and me? Will I lose my job? Is my spouse cheating on me? Am I losing a loved one to a sinister mind-control cult? Fear on a mass scale is the most effective weapon for controlling a population and even driving it to commit unspeakable deeds because survival mode has no ethics, no moral code. These are great fears and are outside the scope of this article, but their basis has the same nature as FOMO.
Very often, the fear turns out to be worse or has much worse consequences than what originally was feared.
Although it’s true that fear can be essential for survival—for example, if you discover a hard lump under your arm or a week after a social event you have difficulty breathing and can’t smell anything, you consult a doctor—the FOMO I am describing is the imaginary loss of social standing or self-worth—irrational fears. Compared to the great fears, FOMO is an easy conquest to start with.
To understand whether or how much FOMO takes away from your enjoyment of life, reflect on how much you:
- Continually refresh your social media news feed to see what’s going on, the latest updates, and the new things that people are talking about.
- Often feel the urge to know what other people are doing. “People” can be the people in your social network of friends, family, and professional peers at LinkedIn, or they can be celebrities, other famous people, or people you really don’t like.
- Have a persistent feeling that you’re not satisfied with yourself or your life circumstances, so you keep looking outward and fixating on what others are doing.
- Feel that perhaps you are not accomplishing enough, especially when comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others can be inspiring or depressing.
- Are vulnerable to FOMO from advertisements or other marketing campaigns. Marketers purposely use FOMO to create a desire or imagined need for a product or service.
The joy of missing out (JOMO) is the feeling of freedom or peace of mind because you have disconnected from a source of purely self-chosen stress and are fully present in the moment. JOMO is the opposite of FOMO.
For school-age children, parents and teachers can replace FOMO with JOMO by arranging for phone-free activities such as reading, journaling, face-to-face conversations in which adults are present with the child, outdoor activities, and even practicing mindfulness meditation—yes, school age children can be taught a mindfulness technique to help them settle down (refer to “Practice mindfulness,” in Part 2: Taming FOMO Part 2 of this series on conquering FOMO).
In Part 2: Taming FOMO Part 2 of this series on conquering FOMO, I describe three concrete steps to help you face and control FOMO. In essence, these short, medium, and long-term measures are:
- Admit you have a FOMO problem.
- Switch off the chatter to discover JOMO.
- Practice mindfulness to deepen and stabilize JOMO.
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