The Fear of Missing Out

Something that’s crossed my path a handful of times in the past few months is this idea that I keep seeing passed around: The Fear of Missing Out, or #FOMO as many people have affectionately labeled it.

As far as I can tell Caterina Fake really propelled the idea into the mainstream more than 3 years ago and there have been many blog posts and talks about how our fear of missing out on whatever it is can be incredibly damaging to our own psyche and mental / physical health. Heck, it even has a wikipedia page.

Just think on it for a moment and you’ve probably experienced this fear as well as I have – it’s crazy the moment you name it and say it aloud, right?

My wife and I have discussed this topic more than a handful of times in the past few months and I have even encountered the opposite sentiment as well, #JOMO, The Joy of Missing Out, which you can read Anil Dash’s thoughts here.

I know what both of these emotions are and I have made it an explicit goal of mine to critically think and execute against the latter perspective; the fact that there’s something joyous about missing out on things. There’s an incredible amount of freedom.

It’s one of the reasons that I’m moving slowly to a point where I’m going to remove myself from the last social social media site that actively participate in: Twitter.

I’ve been thinking about this exit for a quite some time and there have been a handful of moments in the last few months where I was so close to pulling the plug but was snatched back from the ledge quickly by a combination of emotional internal plees and conversations with trusted friends and loved ones.

Ultimately I landed on the same answer every single time: “It’s just not the right time yet to leave.” Which then begs the question: When is the right time to leave the social network? I’m not entirely sure.

But, as I meditate, think, and experience the anxiety that Twitter creates for me I get closer to the edge and one day I think I’m going to just slip over the edge and never come back. Twitter has been a fundamental part of my online experience but that doesn’t mean that it’s been always beneficial or healthy.

And I want to be in control of the apps that I use instead of a slave. Technology should always serve us instead of the other way around. How often we have gotten this twisted.

I desire more and more to experience the joy that exists when I know that I am missing out on the non-essential and thus focusing my time on the things that are truly, really, essential.