You’ve heard of FOMO, then meet its em­pow­er­ing op­po­site: JOMO, the ‘joy of miss­ing out’

IN NEED OF SOME ‘ALONE’ TIME? MORE AND MORE PEO­PLE ARE FIND­ING HOW EM­POW­ER­ING IT IS TO LET GO OF NEED­ING TO BE ‘IN THE KNOW’

Good Health (Australia) - - Content -

Whether it’s that twinge of re­gret when you see a pic­ture on In­sta­gram of your friends hav­ing a blast at that din­ner you ditched, or a nig­gling sus­pi­cion that shun­ning a work­mate’s house­warm­ing lost you some valu­able bond­ing time with your col­leagues, we all know about the in­fa­mous FOMO (fear of miss­ing out). But these days, there’s an­other player in the game, and it’s not only the po­lar op­po­site of its bet­ter-known four-let­ter coun­ter­part, it’s also be­ing hailed as the an­swer to man­ag­ing stress and eas­ing anx­i­ety. Joy of miss­ing out, or JOMO, is all about savour­ing some soli­tude with­out car­ing what ev­ery­one else is do­ing. It’s turn­ing down in­vites and avoid­ing get-to­geth­ers with­out the worry of so­cial de­merit points. It’s about switch­ing off from so­cial me­dia, un­plug­ging from the world and learn­ing to be at peace with your own com­pany. And more and more of us want in.

A cul­tural shift?

It’s not hard to see the ap­peal – our search for ways to take the pres­sure off in in­creas­ingly stress­ful times means JOMO is the ideal catch­phrase for a mod­ern era, but why is it now a ‘thing’? With so­cial me­dia giv­ing us a big­ger win­dow into the lives of oth­ers than ever be­fore, the in­sid­i­ous fear of miss­ing out has in turn reached new heights. Some be­lieve our FOMO was first trig­gered by the ten­dency for Western­ised cul­ture to favour

ex­tro­verts, with so­cial­is­ing and be­ing busy with ac­tiv­i­ties gen­er­ally held up as a marker of suc­cess. When you add the voyeuris­tic and pop­u­lar­ity pulling power of so­cial me­dia, it’s not only the per­fect storm for FOMO to reach fever pitch, it also gives the pre­vail­ing vibe that soli­tude is de­cid­edly un­cool. But psy­chol­o­gist Sara Chatwin says the grow­ing in­ter­est in JOMO as a back­lash against FOMO sig­nals a shift in think­ing. “I see JOMO as like a ‘com­ing of age,’” she ex­plains. “More peo­ple are re­al­is­ing that it’s not es­sen­tial to know what ev­ery­one else is do­ing all the time, or to com­pare your­self con­stantly to oth­ers. It’s co­in­cided with a time when we’re start­ing to wake up to the im­pact of so­cial me­dia. Un­til now, we’ve let so­cial me­dia plonk it­self into an im­por­tant po­si­tion in our lives, and it’s gone rel­a­tively unchecked. JOMO is about giv­ing your­self the free­dom to opt out.”

Tak­ing charge

It might sound sim­ple, but a key con­cept un­der­pin­ning JOMO is em­pow­er­ment. When we con­sume so­cial me­dia, we’re pas­sive, we’re scrolling mind­lessly and putting our­selves at the mercy of what­ever hap­pens to pop up as we flick through our feeds. But when we embrace JOMO, we’re mak­ing a con­scious de­ci­sion to take back con­trol, which cre­ates a pos­i­tive rip­ple ef­fect for many ar­eas of our lives. “So­cial me­dia has taken over peo­ple’s lives,” says Sara. “It hurts peo­ple, it pro­motes anx­i­ety and self-loathing. I’ve seen a big in­crease in the neg­a­tive as­pects of it on teens. Whereas I’ve heard peo­ple say that mak­ing more of a con­scious ef­fort to opt out of so­cial me­dia more of­ten is lib­er­at­ing and it makes them feel good.” Sara says get­ting more in tune with JOMO is an im­por­tant stage of our over­all self-aware­ness and per­sonal devel­op­ment. “There’s some­thing to be said about get­ting to a point where you can sit by your­self and be com­pletely com­fort­able,” she says. “That’s when you’ve landed. It’s un­der­stand­ing your needs, learn­ing to say no, and be­ing em­pow­ered in your life.”

‘It’s not es­sen­tial to know what ev­ery­one else is do­ing’

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