Embracing JOMO

During this summer, I’ve focused on embracing JOMO.  In case you are wondering, JOMO is the short form for ‘Joy of Missing Out’.  It usually means leaving behind the devotion to social media — ignoring tweets, messages, emails, and other distractions that rob us from living in the moment and appreciating what is happening right here and right now.

While at the cottage this summer, I resolved to better manage how social media influences my life by restricting the time I spend looking at various feeds on my smartphone and my computer.  The motivation was simple.  I wanted more control over the role that social media played in my life. I did not want to disconnect from valuable relationships; nor did I want to ignore information from newsfeeds. I also wanted to make sure that I enjoyed the beauty of living in a place where nature surrounds me.

Many people are obsessed with social media. Some reports indicate that people check their phones every 12 minutes, on average, for new messages. I’m not sure that I would describe myself as obsessed, but I do feel a twinge of anxiety when I have to turn off my phone or when I’m away from a computer for long periods of time. I confess that I check devices several times every day. I feel bad if I miss a text from someone in my family or delay my response. I also try to respond quickly to emails from friends so they don’t feel ignored. Thank goodness for retirement as that means there are no emails or texts from the office that ‘demand’ a quick response.

Social Media — FOMO and JOMO

I wrote about FOMO (fear of missing out) in 2012 when I first heard this acronym.  Are you suffering from F.O.M.O?

Social attitudes have changed considerably since then.  Many are aware that social media feeds such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook create anxiety.  Posts from friends and acquaintances indicate that others seem to be living a better life. Our digital habits also take a toll on productivity, health, relationships — even happiness. Photos of parties, travel experiences, family gatherings, and various achievements are interesting but often leave one feeling inadequate for having missed a potential opportunity. Seeing what others are doing can lead to feeling eclipsed and left out of things.

There’s evidence that JOMO has replaced FOMO as a cultural phenomenon. People are aware of how addiction to social media affects the quality of life and are choosing to disconnect for periods of time to achieve a better life balance. Keeping up overwhelms and forces withdrawal — thus the trend to JOMO.

JOMO means that you enjoy who you are, what you’re doing, without worry that you might be missing something. JOMO is about a disconnect from social media to listen to your instincts for relaxation and self-care. JOMO is also about real-time engagement with people around you, with nature, and with inner wisdom. When we focus on ourselves and forget what’s happening with online friends, we have embarked on the JOMO journey.

Without constant connection there is no screen to divert attention; there is no fear missing out on experiences or activities.  Social media feeds don’t rule our thinking. Actions and achievements of others hold little influence. Stepping back from social media can feel isolating yet many now use one day a week as a day of digital detox.

Joy of Cancelations

When I worked, it was a blessing to have a meeting or an interview cancelled.  A cancellation meant time to catch up on report writing, emails, or thinking. There was a heady joy in having an hour or more of ‘free’ time.

In retirement, it’s easy to get caught up in social activities and commitments.  Sometimes refusing a dinner invitation, deciding to miss a movie date, or skipping a gym class brings the same feeling.  Choosing to stay at home feels luxurious. Resolving not to interact, or engage feels like freedom.

Perhaps some forms of JOMO are related to ageing.  Many times I’m happy to skip an event that is hosted by someone I don’t know very well rather than force myself to leave the comfort of home.   It’s not that I don’t like social activities, but sometimes I just don’t want to bother dressing up and going out just because I feel some type of obligation. It’s a signal when part of me resents attending an event. Better to opt out rather than waste time on something that is not fulfilling.

Embracing JOMO this summer

Summer is an ideal time to set aside social media and choose how to spend each day.  Except when at a theatre or when playing bridge, I’ve not turned off my phone, but I try not to look at it more than two or three times each day.   I use my computer for writing but I try to limit time on social media to 30 minutes per day. I’m not aware of missing anything important but since I’m at the cottage there is less pressure to attend events. When I do look at my screens, the daily time limit means there is no time to dwell on the activities others are enjoying so I don’t live vicariously through their posts.

Several times, I’ve had to stop myself from looking at my phone especially when waiting in a line. I’ve focused on self-awareness and noticed that I need to look busy especially when others around me are also looking at their screens.  I’ve also resisted those sudden urges to connect with someone by sending a text update or posting a selfie. Instead, I’ve tried to allow the experience of boredom, frustration, or joy to flow into consciousness without using my phone for diversion.

I’ve learned — again — that I have a habit of making myself too busy. Using the summer weeks for unplanned time gives time for thinking as well as time for goofing off.

Becoming aware of my habits in using social media has meant monitoring my behaviour and using an amount of self-control.  I’ve not always succeeded especially when waiting for news affecting family members.  There is no JOMO when it comes to important news about grandchildren — most of which comes with texts, photos, or short videos.

I know it will be hard to stick to the relaxed summer lifestyle after the summer when more outside influences will interfere. Embracing JOMO once I’m back into home routines and away from the relaxed cottage lifestyle won’t be easy. Hopefully, I’ll remember that allowing social media to affect my life is a choice.  I can govern myself and continue embracing a JOMO lifestyle!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested in reader experiences in leaving behind social media influences.  Please leave your comments and observations.  If you enjoy this blog, please consider becoming a subscriber.

2 Replies to “Embracing JOMO”

  1. Jeanette,
    You’ve touched on a very important issue for all of us, and I think especially for older people. We can miss a great deal by focusing too much on computers and phones. And every day is precious. I too have tried to become more self-aware this summer by reducing the time I spend playing computer games and checking my Facebook and Twitter. One of the things that has helped me with that is my dog! She wants attention and she wants it now! When I put her off or ignore her for too long, she places a paw in my lap, as though to say, “Please? Can you put your device down and pet me?” Her strategy usually works.

    1. Hello Rin, Your observation that every day is precious reminds me of a favourite quote from Gretchen Rubin’s happiness project — “The days are long, but the years are short”. Too often we let day after day pass without realizing how much time is wasted. Time seems an endless commodity. Because we measure our lives in years rather than days, it’s easy to forget that each day needs to count; thus, practising JOMO helps.
      You are fortunate to have your dog who doesn’t measure time in days or years, but rather in the loving attention and time you give to her. You are blessed to have her reminders to take you away from your screens!
      Be well,
      Jeanette

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