The power of the internet has improved everyone’s lives in many ways but many believe most of us have gone overboard as far as how we use it today.
Tired of feeling like you are always missing out on something? Before getting out and back to bed at the end of the day, do you find yourself checking your phone, scrolling senselessly through social media, and comparing your life to others? If so, you are not alone.
The fear of missing out, or FOMO, has become a widespread problem in our society, causing stress, anxiety, and discontent. But there is a better way to live, a way that embraces the joys of missing out, or JOMO. We just have to go back to the times when baby boomers like myself used to live without all the gadgets, the apps, and all the noises that rule our lives today. A life that allowed us to discover the beauty of what we have and who we are.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that 37 percent of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the internet. This means that over half of the world’s population is missing out on the benefits of digital connectivity, such as education, health, entertainment, livelihood opportunities, and social inclusion. The reasons for being unconnected vary and may include inadequate digital infrastructure, affordability, lack of digital skills, or simply not seeing the value of the Internet in their lives.
Many people live in areas where there is no reliable or affordable internet service available, or regular electricity to power the devices. Even if internet service is available, many people are not able to afford to pay for the devices or the connection. This is especially true for Filipinos who are living below the poverty line where for most of them, food to eat is a top priority.
By being unconnected, they are isolated from all the negative effects of being connected such as FOMO.
FOMO is a common phenomenon in the super-connected world that we live in today. It is defined as the anxiety or apprehension surrounding missing out on things like social events, gatherings, the latest gossip, or news including fake ones. FOMO can make us feel like we are not as connected, successful, or happy as others, and that we are missing out on something fundamentally important that others are experiencing right now.
Social media platforms allow us to share our highlights, achievements, and experiences with others, creating a situation where we compare our regular lives to the best moments of others. These noises can create a sense of envy, inadequacy, dissatisfaction with one’s own life, feeling the pressure to keep up, to fit in, and to have it all which can lead to unhealthy effects on our physical and mental health.
JOMO or the joy of missing out, on the other hand, is the feeling of contentment, gratitude, and fulfillment that comes from appreciating what we have, rather than what we lack. It is the acceptance and appreciation of our choices. It is the celebration of our uniqueness, rather than the comparison and competition with others. It is about recognizing that not every experience is worth our time and energy, and that, sometimes the best way to find satisfaction is to simply be thankful for what we have and who we are.
We can nurture JOMO in our lives without the need to disconnect ourselves from the internet. We can start by being mindful of our social media consumption and limiting the amount of time we spend on it. We should also acknowledge that it is okay to decline invitations or turn down commitments if we do not feel that we have the time or energy for them. Making time for activities that we enjoy and that make us feel good, such as reading, taking a walk, or spending time in nature can take us away from senseless social media scrolling.
Practicing mindfulness can also help us focus on what we have, rather than what we lack, and appreciate the value and meaning of our experiences, rather than comparing them to others. Everyone’s life is different. We should direct our minds on our own unique path instead of comparing ourselves to others.
JOMO is a powerful and positive mindset that can help us live more authentically, meaningfully, and joyfully. By embracing the joys of missing out, we free ourselves from the fear of missing out and enjoy the beauty of what we have, and who we are. It is not about isolating ourselves from the world or avoiding new experiences altogether. It is about making conscious choices about how we spend our time and energy and prioritizing the activities that bring us joy and fulfillment. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(The author is an executive member of the National Innovation Council, lead convenor of the Alliance for Technology Innovators for the Nation (ATIN), vice president of the Analytics and AI Association of the Philippines, and vice president, UP System Information Technology Foundation.)