The Joy Of Missing Out

In our digital age, Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) has become an anxiety-inducing epidemic. It’s that feeling when you decide to stay in, inevitably and mindlessly scroll through your phone, and witness the fun everyone else is having on the other end. Without you. Everyone’s highlight reel stares you in the face with the flick of your thumb, bringing on high school levels of self-loathing.

But with every great movement comes a slow-building counter culture. Welcome 2018’s answer to FOMO: JOMO. JOMO or Joy Of Missing Out is the antithesis of FOMO. Instead of scrolling through feeling misery and isolation, JOMO is the guilt-free thrill of saying “no, thanks!” and practicing some screen-free self-care.

When I moved from Los Angeles to Australia in late May, FOMO crept in. Actually, “crept” is too gentle of a word. The picture of Australia as a tropical paradise quickly shattered when it began raining and didn’t stop for a month. My husband and I left our friends, jobs and the comfort of everything familiar. I felt like my friends carried on as if I never left enjoying their dreamy LA summer.

Every time I refreshed my Instagram feed, I was confronted with photos of them living their best lives — concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, picnics in Echo Park, scenic hikes and house parties. Always up for some self-torture, I would scroll through and imagine what I would be doing had I not decided to move 7,500 miles to the Southern Hemisphere in the dead of winter.

After a few weeks of FOMO, I knew I had to limit my social media usage to start enjoying myself. Enter JOMO, the feeling you get when you disconnect from your phone and connect with yourself. You know that old adage “Ignorance is Bliss”? It’s true when it comes to social media. Maybe we’re not meant to know what everyone is doing all of the time. I felt genuinely happier when I unplugged and put my energy into other activities. These included yoga, exploring my new city, and meeting new friends without documenting every step.

In a time when our real lives are so intertwined with our digital lives, digital wellbeing is an essential step toward mental and physical wellbeing. Next time you’re scrolling through your feed, take mental notes or you can actually write down each time you feel a negative emotion. I did this recently, and found a lot of the content that filled my feed actually made me feel worse about myself and my situation. What’s the point of that?

Practice unplugging and see if your mood improves when you turn your focus from everything you’re missing out on, to the simple joy of being. I’m still working on it, but I’m grateful that the JOMO movement is taking off. After all, no one really cares if you don’t go to the party. And you don’t have to either.

Dear Apple and Google: Your Phones Do Not Trigger Personal Growth, Humans Do

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We are grateful for the digital wellness tools announced by Google in May and Apple in June. 

Now that you mention it, we are happy to know that our phones will automatically stop nudging us when we are somewhere or with someone we care about. So, kudos for giving us the control to turn on Do Not Disturb when we want to be more present.

And, yes, you’re right, it will be good to see how much time is being sucked out of our days by monitoring our usage. It’s great that we will receive weekly reports and decide which digital activities we want to limit.

For those of us who are parents, we embrace the opportunity to teach our hyper-connected children, and really, ourselves, about tech/life balance. It feels good to be back in the driver's seat when it comes to monitoring our families’ digital health and safety.

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Change is an inside job for us humans. Diving deeper into our devices and applying “stat-guilt” is not the end game.

Some of the press coverage that has come out after the WWDC this week has expressed concern about Apple’s mixed messages. BuzzFeed reported that during the keynote, Apple’s VP of software engineering while presenting the new suite of digital health tools, “soberly said, ‘We might not even recognize how distracted we have become.’ Then, not 30 minutes later another Apple executive gave a demo that was ‘a harried, upbeat, and at times short-of-breath master class in multitasking’. Even reading about the display of cross purposes was confusing.

Perhaps we need to ask how the big tech companies can be both the problem and the solution.

Back in May, Wired Magazine featured an article about the Google I/O, the announcement of tools to make the Android phone less addictive and ended the article by stating that “...real “wellness” in the current technological landscape will require more than a few toggles on a phone.”

Because we can’t rely on Apple and Google to help us kick our bad tech habits, we are lucky that the Center for Humane Technology is constantly pulling the curtain back and advocating for our digital well being. Personally, I am proud to be included in the self-named group, Digital Wellness Warriors that has banded together developers, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders all working on products that help people establish healthy relationships with their phones. The DIgital Wellness Warriors first project together was to circulate a petition asking Apple to open their standard development kit so that apps, like lilspace, can offer the same digital life-changing tools that are available for Android. 

It is good to know that people in high places are looking out for us.

On the ground, at lilspace, we work daily to build a community around taking breaks from our phones reminding ourselves that we still exist, we are not alone, even when we don’t see a digital glow. Our team is constantly looking for ways to motivate us to live more of a life beyond our screens. We want to know what people, what places and what real-life things will make you forget about your phone.

Our smartphones have disrupted the business of human relationships the same way Uber disrupted the taxicab industry. Sherry Turkle, the author of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation, has been warning us since 2011 that when we are distracted by our phones, we “pay insufficient attention to one another, creating increasingly shallow relationships.” Looking where we are 7 years later, there is no question that Turkle was right and the repercussions can be felt all around us.

Thankfully, together, we can stay ahead of this. Here are some tips so we can keep making positive changes together.

Be less of a tool for your phone and get to know the ways you can make your phone be a tool to support your emotional health and wellbeing. Here are links to learn more about what will be available for iPhone and for Android

Encourage your friends and family to join you in making these healthy changes. Lilspace donates $1 to different causes for every hour we unplug together around the world. The power of community is unstoppable.

Figure out what needs to happen so that your real-life and your relationships bring you a more engaging user experience than what’s on your phone.

Then, keep in mind what the Dalai Lama tweeted back in 2012, 

“A genuine change must first come from within the individual…” 

Ok, yes, I get the irony :-)

Don't Panic, You Have The Answers

Don't Panic, You Have The Answers

I love the idea that any of us can teach not only our kids, but ourselves to use the power of technology for good.

These are some of the tried and true methods I use to keep my relationship with my phone from going from one extreme to another.