JOMO your FOMO and love what’s missing!
October 10, 2012 by Kay Grossman

o you suffer from FOMO, the “fear of missing out?” Discover JOMO, the “joy of missing out!”

Flickr founder and blogger Caterina Fake popularized the term FOMO to describe the social media-exacerbated phenomenon of feeling like you are missing out. By constantly comparing your life to the life you imagine others lead based on their status updates, you inevitably feel like you don’t measure up. You are not as popular, the events you attend are not as exciting, and you lag behind in business ventures and accomplishments. You conclude that in comparison with others you are most certainly missing out.

It’s both an absurdity and a double whammy. The very fear of missing out is what keeps you going back for reinforcement of the feeling that you are missing out!

FOMO motivates you to be hyper-vigilant about real-time events and other people’s opinions about them. You feel up-to-date and in-the-know with RSS feeds, news apps, and blog or twitter alerts. Without the constant flow of information across your devices you fear that you will be out of the loop, that you will miss out.

The irony is that this fear of missing out leads to a much deeper form of missing out. You miss what’s real — and right in front of you.

By staying hyper-connected and always “on” through social networks and digital devices, you cannot listen deeply to the people you are with. You miss the quiet time needed for self-reflection, insight, and creativity. You don’t actively appreciate the beauty in everyday things. In short, you are not fully present in your own life.

You do have a choice, however. You can choose to opt out of tuning in to digital information at least some of the time. Like me, you may have accidentally experienced the positive effects of imposed reprieves from digital devices. Airplane rides became a haven of uninterrupted focus. Vacations in places without Internet access provided the freedom to enjoy conversation, the beauty in nature, and true relaxation.

Why not create these reprieves on purpose, and more frequently?

Entrepreneur and blogger Anil Dash used the term JOMO, or “Joy of Missing Out,” to describe the phenomenon of moving beyond the fear of missing out to a sense of “enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved too, but are simply skipping.” You feel the joy of consciously opting in to your own life, instead.

JOMO can also refer to the relief you feel in accepting the fact that there is more real-time information than any one person can possibly manage. Why pressure yourself to do the impossible? Researchers have found that the average person is bombarded with enough information every day to overload a laptop computer within a week! It is truly liberating, sensible, and — dare I say, necessary — to staunch its flow.

Where is the joy? In moving away from status comparisons that result in tension and anxiety. In learning new things by limiting Web content to the amount your brain can readily absorb. In paying attention to the people you are with, thereby enhancing relationships. In owning your gadgets, rather than them owning you. In short, you can find the joy by more thoughtfully choosing where to allocate your precious attention.

Following are some suggestions for opting out of status updates and information overload:

  1. Limit your time spent checking social media. Keep track. Start small.
  2. Set specific times you check updates rather than have your attention pulled there by an auditory or visual alert. Turn off the alerts.
  3. Be wary of Web access. Set your intentions carefully and limit your access to what is essential. Use software that limits Web access for periods of time (i.e., Freedom app).
  4. Create digital-free zones when you’re with people you care about. For example, turn off your smart phones at meal times and for at least an hour in the evenings at home.
  5. Connect with people face-to-face. Pay attention to the person and the conversation in the moment.
  6. Bring your conscious awareness to the benefits of supposedly missing out!

Challenge your FOMO and bring on your JOMO!

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