When did FOMO turn to JOMO?
Someone once said life was so much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits. As much as I want to agree with this viewpoint, I cannot emphasize enough the vitality these names (okay, Blackberry bombed, so let’s leave it out!) play in our lives. The same can be said about Instagram, Snapchat, FB, and Twitter. What was designed to be a pastime that caters to those who are bored or have plenty of time, has turned into an indispensable element of our daily lives. I remember when Orkut was all the rage. Everyone was hooked onto it because it was something entirely different from other online sites – sending scraps and typing out testimonials for our friends and such novel virtual activities that gave us a dopamine surge.
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Then came the big, fat social media platform – Facebook which had us ditch Orkut for it. The length of our phone conversations grew shorter and the number of wall posts grew higher. We dropped coconuts on each other’s walls (does anyone remember this?) in case someone went into hibernation. My friends and I literally started spamming our walls considering it to be our personal diary and dishing out all sorts of nonsensical thoughts like how I think the guy next door has a feeling that I’m crushing on him. Well, what else can one expect from high school kids who suddenly get a virtual outlet for their emotions? These posts sure have transformed into chuckle-worthy memories that we pop up once a year on Facebook making us turn beetroot red in the face wondering how immature we once were.
And so arrived the then-new kid on the block, Instagram. And stories of what we ate for breakfast to where we vacayed (sigh, the word vacation sounds ancient now) started pouring in. And in no time, social media stopped serving its original purpose, that is, to interact with people. There’s a reason why it’s called “social” media. No longer is anyone there to talk to people or ask them if they are doing good. Well, how will they, when they are busy scrolling down mindlessly with their thumbs and eyeballs fighting it out to who’s faster. All this, while simultaneously on the lookout for the next fun place to be at or the next trending dish to experiment cuz, well, FOMO (fear of missing out) has gotten the better of them.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you would probably by now know that FOMO is the anxiety triggered by the thought of your friends and family having the time of their lives, leaving you out. Whether the anxiety stems from the thought of you being excluded by a particular person or a set of people, or because you are left out from a certain fun activity depends partly on the person posting it and your affinity towards the fun-filled activity in question. Of course, social media is not the only culprit of FOMO but in the current context where we try to stay at home as much as possible, it may be one of the biggest triggers of FOMO.
As human beings, we are expected to be social animals but many of us, particularly millennials, have gotten to the point where they can’t stop comparing their lives with other’s posts on social media. The friend who just got married cannot stop posting her honeymoon pictures, while here you are struggling to come out of a broken relationship. The cousin posts about his university first rank and here you are praying that you will be able to clear all those arrears that you have appeared for. Then again, what we need to understand is nobody posts their low points or bad hair days (unless they’re tagged by someone else, who’s, by the way, looking amazing in the same pic) on social media. But that doesn’t simply mean that they don’t have their share of it. Coming to terms with this fact can help you embrace FOMO’s delightful sibling, JOMO – joy of missing out. This basically just means combating the paradox of choice one faces in their daily lives by taking a few steps back.
I see a lot of Gen Z’s are already having their JOMO moments. I had recently done an academic survey related to travel in which I was quite surprised to find out that many Gen Z’s do not look up travel pictures or videos before they go on a trip. They prefer to experience it as it comes, moment by moment. Yes, they would do a basic read-up or watch a quick video that doesn’t give too much away about the place. On the other hand, it was some of the millennials who unveiled views such as travelling without checking out pictures or influencer vlogs of the location on social media was a huge no-no. While there’s nothing wrong with it, this should not overrule the flow of your journey and the joy of serendipity while travelling. After all, what’s the fun if there’s nothing new to experience?
The next time you feel torn between hanging out at a swanky restaurant that has just opened or going skydiving just because your neighbour’s high-spirited description of the free-falling experience caught your fancy, take a moment and ask yourself if you really want to be at either of these places (aka JOMO). I mean, are you sure at least one of this is going to make you truly happy? If the answer is yes, of course, you should go ahead. But if you’re just going with the hedonistic flow and seem to be having an iota of doubt, choose to spend the day chilling with a book or watching your favourite show. This is 100% easier said than done and switching off from matters that you convince yourself are important will not immediately give you gratification. But in the long run, you would be glad that you’d ignored blindly following a herd and indulged in activities that brought you genuine joy.