Social media opens our eyes as to how “perfect” our friends’ lives are. Sometimes we can’t help but obsess ourselves with comparing our lives — which may not be as fruitful — to theirs.
A nagging voice at the back of our mind may tell us we are missing out on all the fun. The constant doubt of “am I doing/ living enough” fuels our compulsion to scroll through our highly-edited feeds every day, digging deeper into the online profiles that we envy so that eventually we won’t feel out of the loop.
FOMO (i.e. the fear of missing out) perpetuates as we become so fixated on being in the know. We might as well forget there is a whole world outside social media. In fact, leaning into JOMO may even be your key to joy.
Hop on with JOMO (i.e. the joy of missing out) to give your mind the much-needed peace.
What is FOMO and JOMO?
FOMO is the compulsive need (often in the form of anxiety) to be constantly available, mentally or in person, to not miss out on any exciting, important events or moments. This phenomenon has caught on and evolved into a culture in the past decade, prevailing as a mainstream Internet slang in memes. Corporate culture has also shed light on this widespread concept, by which organizations seek to engage their customers.
JOMO, in contrast, is the practice of drawing boundaries to find enjoyment in every moment, without being preoccupied by what everyone else is doing. It is choosing what brings us joy, consciously making time for things important to us and being purposeful about how we spend our time. It is a social phenomenon in response to FOMO.
Why does FOMO bother us?
FOMO governs many people’s use of social media, which subsequently meddles with our life. The desire to do everything and being everywhere actually holds people back from making actual progress in real-life. It can also cause physical problems like fatigue, stress and sleep disruption.
Social media dominates the whole social connectivity space, whereas the urge to stay socially connected can lead to social media addiction. Even before the social distancing and lockdown policies, social media has long been our common language with one another.
Most people curate moments of life on social media with a “filter” that obscures their authentic selves. More often than not the portrayal projects how we would like to be seen but not who we really are. Lost in putting up the ideal self image, we may overlook the need to reflect on our authentic selves and address our personal growth and development.
On the other hand, FOMO significantly affects the way we perceive the world around us. Excessively poring over the amusing adventures of our friends may amplify feelings of isolation, jealousy, failure and inadequacy — arising from the thought that our life simply does not measure up.
Our intuition may assume that social media is the cause of FOMO, but it is not as linear as we think. In fact, people who have unmet psychological needs and lower levels of life satisfaction are more susceptible to FOMO, as a Google study shows. Doom scrolling and other online behaviors are also associated with the FOMO culture.
As American psychologist Barry Schwartz says, “stop paying so much attention to how others around you are doing”, shutting down social media usage may seem to be the quickest fix but the larger issue — our fear of inadequacy, low level of confidence and craving for attention or validation, etc. — remains. The key is to look “inward” instead of “outward”, and JOMO can be the starting point for you.
Missing out can be joyful. JOMO affords us some breathing space where we can tune into our inner self, find meaning and existential depth in our lives. For one, making a conscious effort to disengage yourself from the compulsion is a huge leap forward in developing more genuine, authentic relationships. It also allows us to reallocate our existing personal resources, time, money and energy, for things that matter.
So, take some time to reflect on how you spend your time and how it makes you feel. Be genuine when you contemplate, as the ultimate goal is to find out the “why” behind things you do — do you do things purely for yourself, for enjoyment or you do it to earn others’ approval?
The golden rule is to be mindful with your time allocation. Disconnecting from technology may be difficult (if not impossible), reconnecting with people or regaining offline communication can hold remarkable results.
Contrary to FOMO, JOMO is a gradual process to cultivate. It could also be understood as a mindfulness practice to focus on the present moment. Try to pay full attention to your emotional and physical needs. Take it slow, there is no need to hurry. You have to be patient in addressing your emotions and sensory feelings — and yes, they are all valid.
A useful rule of thumb is to practice saying NO. Saying NO outright may be difficult for some people but it truly makes a difference, especially when it comes to things unworthy of your attention. Subsequently, you get to declutter and strip your life down to simplicity, keeping things that spark joy.
Don’t miss out on the little joy in life!
Social media has inevitably become the breeding ground for FOMO. Though a social media detox is easier said than done, it can definitely do you good. By making time and space for inner dialogues, we pull ourselves away from the virtual world along with the “false reality”.
Imagine a world where people truly connect with one another, where people nurture and cherish meaningful relationships, where people explore with their senses wide open, where people greet one another with a smile, and where people engage in heartfelt conversations — you can be part of that world.
Just remember: Every day, amazing illusions of life looking better than yours unfold before you, but you would never know what hardship goes behind the scenes. In the end, we are all humans with flaws and struggles, all of us go through difficult times at some point in life.
So, be generous when it comes to loving, valuing and giving credit to yourself, not just your strengths, but your weaknesses as well. Being grateful has been the open secret of happiness.
You will be surprised that simply getting out there, focusing on the experience can bring you solace and take you to new beginnings. Once you embark on your personal voyage of discovery, there is no way you will fall back into the social media black hole.
FOMO is the compulsive need to be constantly available, mentally or in person, to not miss out on any exciting, important events or moments. This phenomenon has caught on and evolved into a culture in the past decade.
JOMO, in contrast, refers to full enjoyment out of every moment, without being bothered with what everyone else is doing. It is consciously choosing what brings us joy and being purposeful about how we use our time. It is a social phenomenon in response to FOMO.
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This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.