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.