From FOMO to JOMO

I don’t remember exactly when it started to feel so prickly to be on social media. It was sometime in the early fall. My relationship with this modern marvel had been running hot and cold for awhile but I do remember that it felt almost sudden that every time I picked up my phone to scroll I could feel the vibration dropping throughout my body.

Photo: Nate Christopher

Photo: Nate Christopher

And it wasn’t because I didn’t follow many amazing people- I’ve made several meaningful friendships and connections through those little squares. But it came to a point where everything felt repetitive, as if I was constantly being preached at ( and I, no denying, was preaching to others), and it all just felt so … hollow.

The use of social media (specifically FB & IG) gradually began to decline but I would notice that in downtime I would still gravitate towards mindless scrolling even when it irritated me. I kept hearing a voice in the back of my head that invited me to close it out and step away. But there was a real fear of disconnecting. That sneaky fear so cleverly deemed FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out.

My ego had a field day with this mindset … what if I don’t mean anything anymore if I am not visible on Social Media? What if I just disappear, and no one remembers me? What about all the stories and experiences I would miss out on knowing about others? How could I be successful or meet people if I am not active in this way? Am I just throwing everything away?

Obviously, there is a rational argument to all of these irrational worries. Of course I won’t disappear or be forgotten- at least not from those who are truly connected. And all things have a season- if relationships fade because I don’t show up on Social Media then those relationships ran their course. And that’s OK.

And lets us also be honest that the patriarchal algorithms of late have made it pretty darn difficult to be seen anyway, and I know I was missing out on a lot of others stories and feeds because of it. After thinking on this I realized I wasn’t bitter, or jaded. It was just the truth. I don’t want this to read as an anti-social media rant, this is truly just where I am in relation to it at this moment in time.

I was also feeling so tired of ‘curating’. Making content, feeling obligated (that ominous Social Media god who requires our devotion is a tricky one), and it was beginning to feel like I was preaching to the choir. Because social media creates a pretty powerful social bubble even when you try and branch out. Those cheeky algorithms know what you like, and respond to content- bubble popping is a dedicated practice and I just didn’t have the energy for it anymore.

So the story goes that I worked my way through most of these fears. Truthfully, I am still nervous about logging out in 2019. But then social media has been a part of my life since 2012 and was a huge part of running my business for the last 3 years. Its like breaking up, you know?

Despite the nerves though, on December 31 I am logging out officially and deleting FB and IG from my phone (I am not deleting my accounts, because who knows how I will feel 3, 9, or 18 months from now). And I am trusting that this is divinely guided.

2019 is the year I am dedicating to presence, simplicity, and fulfillment and in so many ways social media is an unnecessary hurdle to these qualities for me. So I am turning my FOMO into JOMO- the Joy of Missing Out.

I don’t remember where I heard this term but it was just a few weeks ago when I was really on the fence of what to do and my soul just went ‘yesssssss’.

Not being accessible and visible to the masses does not have to be a fearful endeavor. It does not mean that I am moving backward or throwing it all away. It almost even seems silly that we have to deliberate on the ‘should I’ or ‘shouldn’t I’ so much these days but these platforms have become a huge part of our society and how we operate. As someone who could easily be a hermit I was worried about how much more isolated I would become but honestly? Social media can make you feel pretty damn isolated even when you are ‘connected’.

So instead, I want to joyfully find ways to connect in person. I want to joyfully live my life for me and not for a photo or a message that may not get read. I want to meet people in person instead of just being a Facebook friend for years. Or have a friend share a photo with me in person of their little one and see my face light up in joy for them. I want to joyfully miss out on the day by day and minute by minute unfolding of peoples lives so we feel more compelled to meet up and have real things to talk about. I want to joyfully embrace more mystery in life. And my whole body sighs with relief.

As for the amazing people I have met over the ‘gram or facebook who’s work truly inspires me I have made sure I am subscribed to their newsletter lists and have bookmarked their blogs so that I can enjoy reading the more juicy, heartfelt, and elaborated thoughts. This is the same reason I decided to get back to my blogging roots because so much more can be expressed in a container like a blog than a caption. I don’t want to cater and encourage the 3.5 second attention span of our culture- I want to be part of the reason that attention bandwidth grows. Even if only 5 people ever sit through a post I will have captured their attention for at least 2 minutes and that is an exercise of presence!

It goes both ways that I want to grow my attention span too. No more looking at my phone while my beloved is talking to me. Or worrying about getting a photo. I am joyfully releasing these compulsions.

I know I am not alone in this desire to be freed from the imaginary hold of social media (because it IS all just conditioning, FOMO is strong within the collective hive mind). My radical approach is what I know is right for my journey and experience. I would love to open up the comments to your reflections and how you are feeling with social media too- I’ve heard so many people saying that they want to cut back or are using screen time limits to help them cut back, but are we all letting FOMO hold us back? I believe the social media bubble is beginning to pop after years of inflation and saturation, so I am curious to how this is feeling for you and your experiences …