JOMO: The joy of missing out

July 31, 2018

On Facebook and other social media channels, we find out that our “friends” are travelling to exotic places, seeing their children graduate from school, visiting with adorable grandchildren, going to rock concerts and museums, spending the day at the beach, taking selfies with the stars, or starting a new job. Many of us scroll down obsessively, in order to find out what the rest of the world is doing while we are sitting at our computers. Indeed, social media inevitably fosters fear of missing out (FOMO)—although (if we are honest with ourselves) we actually would avoid many of the activities in which these friends are engaging.

Another driver of FOMO is the social pressure to be at the right place with the right people (like that awesome party everyone else enjoyed last weekend). This pressure from society combined with the fear of missing out can wear us down and can decrease our happiness.

Indeed, based on the findings of a recent survey on LinkedIn, 70% of workers admit that when they take a vacation, they don’t disconnect from work. Our digital habits—constantly checking messages and social media—have become so entrenched, that it is nearly impossible to enjoy “getting away from it all,” because we may be missing something.

However, LinkedIn suggests, there is an antidote: Instead of living in perpetual fear of missing out, many are embracing a new approach to our always-on, tech-dependent lives. They are taking the time to tune out. Call it JOMO, or the joy of missing out.

“JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life,” says Kristin Fuller, M.D. in a recent issue of Psychology Today.

“You do not need to compare your life to others; but, instead, practice tuning out the background noise of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants’ and learn to let go of worrying [about] whether you are doing something wrong,” she says. “JOMO allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections, to be intentional with our time, to practice saying  ‘no,’ to give ourselves tech-free breaks—and to give ourselves permission to acknowledge where we are and to feel emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses, JOMO allows us to be who we are in the present moment, which is the secret to finding happiness. When you free up that competitive and anxious space in your brain, you have so much more time, energy and emotion to conquer your true priorities.”

She advises us to:

  • Be intentional with your time: Schedule something that is important to you, whether it is working out, meeting a friend for coffee, writing that book or completing a work project. Make your time your priority instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.
  • Give yourself permission to live in the present: If you are having a bad day, be easy on yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing evening. If you just received good news, then take a moment to embrace it and celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then re-assess why you are feeling this way.
  • Embrace tech-free time: Unsubscribe from social media accounts; and un-follow individuals who trigger your FOMO, or cause you any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only status scroll when you are at home on your computer.
  • Practice saying “no”: You do not always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying “no” is the best kind of self-love. Even if you want to help someone, but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say “no,” in order to protect yourself.
  • Experience real life (not social media life): JOMO allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments suckered into the drama of social media, disconnect and do the things that you enjoy—such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family.
  • Slow down: Take time to think before you speak, embrace the quiet, use time driving in traffic or waiting in lines to sit with your thoughts or listen to a book. Slowing down can increase our creativity, which we can harvest into other productive avenues and projects in our life.

Fuller notes, “Instead of having FOMO over silly experiences on social media, we should be wary about having FOMO over missing moments with loved ones, watching sunsets, laughing at jokes, traveling, walking barefoot through the grass, hearing the sound of the ocean, and enjoying good food with family and friends.”

Research contact: @gldnminded