In case you live under a rock…. or just can’t quite keep up with all the acronyms we have these days, FOMO has been around since 2004.
FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out
Well, I guess the fear of missing out has always existed way before 2004 for some, we just have a catchy name for it now. Is there something going on that is a better option than what you are doing right now? Are people having fun without you, and you’re missing out on an experience? EVERYONE else seems to be doing X except for me! Are they though, really?
Legitimate Times To Have FOMO
Those questions and feelings happen to pretty much everyone I know, but some with different levels of FOMO or more often than others. I truly believe there are legitimate times when FOMO can feel very real. A close friend or family is getting married and for whatever reason you are just not able to make it. You are missing out on a once in a lifetime (hopefully) experience for the bride and groom, and not being there is disappointing, sad even. You’re not going to get to get them to do their wedding again just so you can be a part of it in the future.
If you are a mad sports fan and support team X, and they make it to the Super Bowl, NBA Finals or the FA Cup, it’s likely that might not happen again for years, or maybe even in your own lifetime. If all your friends are going but you can’t afford it, then yeah, it’s understandable that you’ve got legitimate FOMO! You know it’s an experience you might never ever get to have again, and you missed out big time!
When FOMO Makes No Sense
This is my own opinion, and I’m sure many will disagree, but to me, it’s pointless to claim FOMO because your friends went out to dinner (if you’re still in lockdown, can you remember going out for dinner???) and you couldn’t go. You missed out on that one time, but my god you are likely to get to go again! FOMO makes no sense as a director of your actions. Meaning, if you really don’t want to go to an event, but if you don’t you know you will think you are missing out once you see photos of everyone there. You would enjoy staying at home with your partner, or just reading a book on your own, but your fear of not being there dictates your decision to accept the invitation to a party or book a ticket to a conference. If that occasion rolls around and you dread going, but STILL go because you don’t want to feel like you might have missed out, that’s FOMO guiding you right there!
OK, so this one is much newer than FOMO, added to the dictionary just a few years ago:
JOMO = Joy Of Missing Out
This doesn’t mean you are excited to be missing out, but rather that you can find joy and happiness in what you are currently doing rather than regretting or being down about what you ARE NOT doing. If you consciously make a decision NOT to do something (like attend an event), and instead decide to spend the day with a close friend, or take your Dad shopping, or go for a spa day with your partner, this is healthy. Focus on that experience, focus on the person you are with (or just yourself!), and not even think about the ‘thing’ you decided not to do, that’s where the JOMO comes in. You are missing out, but you’re happy about it. What’s unhealthy for your own head space is making that decision not to do something then regretting it when the day comes based on posts and photos you see on social media. Plus, have you ever attended something in person that wasn’t so great, then seen tweets or images online that painted a completely different picture. You think, hang on, I was there, it wasn’t all that great! Social media can be used to create a completely different image for those that weren’t there, making them WISH they were there.
In fact, it’s really only social media that is the culprit for inciting FOMO. Think about it. If you didn’t get to go somewhere prior to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you didn’t get to SEE all of your friends having an amazing time together WITHOUT YOU! You didn’t see all the staged photos, where people then went right back to their phones or individual conversations. Sure, you might hear about things the next day, but it was never as in your face as it is right now.
Easier Said Than Done
I get it. It’s easy for me to say you should drop FOMO and start with the JOMO. I think a lot of it depends on your own personality traits. If I think about how I was as a teenager and in my early 20’s (just a couple of years ago 😉) I was social, would go to parties and clubs and hang out with my friends. However, it would get to a certain point of the night and I was done, ready to be on my own to recharge my batteries. I wouldn’t think twice about what I might miss if I left. I wouldn’t go home and then regret it. I would get home and feel content, happy to have some time to myself.
So I get it. We are all different, and for some FOMO is real. I’m not saying I NEVER get it, but I think I get it less and less as I get older.
Embracing Being Present
For me, this is about not having regret. If you can’t be somewhere socially that you wanted to be, through no fault of your own, I understand the FOMO. There could even be great sadness in not being with others you care about. I’m talking about having FOMO after you’ve actually decided not to go somewhere purely based on seeing others talk about it on social media. Or, allowing FOMO to rule your decision making in terms of what you do or don’t do.
Finding a way to be present goes a long way to clearing your head and feeling positive about how you’re spending your time. Life is a series of events that will most likely keep on repeating. Some you go to, some you don’t. Just don’t take too much time letting the ones you don’t attend fill your mind with FOMO. JOMO for the win!