From FOMO to JOMO: why it is important to disconnect and learn to miss things | Technology


It is impossible to quantify the amount of content on social networks that recommends the latest trendy restaurant, the unmissable “free plan” or the best places to visit in any city in the world. Every day thousands of new videos, publications and Instagram stories emerge with these types of suggestions, which have been seeking to seduce users of different platforms for years.

This phenomenon has given rise to a term to describe the need to be aware of everything others are doing: FOMO, acronym in English. fear of missing out, which translates as fear of missing out. However, now more and more users are rebelling against this trend, which different studies have shown to be harmful to mental health, and have decided to embrace the opposite trend, renamed JOMO (acronym in English). joy of missing out: joy or enjoyment of missing something).

“We should not be afraid of missing out, but rather enjoy the simplicity and focus that a good human life brings us. No matter what we do, we will always miss something, so trying to do everything is a crazy idea,” explains Sven Brinkmann, Danish psychologist and philosopher. author of the book The joy of missing out. The popularizer, who in his book promotes the need to get off the frenetic wheel imposed by social networks, insists on the idea that doing too many things is not always synonymous with happiness. “Much psychological research has shown that people are happier if they have fewer options to choose from. This is what is called the paradox of choice. “If we learn to miss out on something, there is a greater chance that we will be happy with what we have, rather than wanting more all the time.”

Although both names have been used primarily to describe the two trends in relation to dependence on social networks —the JOMO tag has accumulated more than 54 million views on TikTok, much less than the most popular FOMO, which has about 880 million—Brinkmann highlights that these are “existential phenomena” that go beyond technology. “Rather, FOMO refers to the need to be where everything is happening, experiencing and living to the fullest. It becomes a search that can never be successful, because there is always more to see and do,” he states.

“When we want to fit so many things into the day that don't fit, we end up feeling anxious, frustrated, guilty for not getting to everything,” explains clinical psychologist Patricia Ramírez, known on social networks as @patri_psicologa. “People who choose JOMO make the deliberate and conscious decision not to have to be in everything and to be able to lead a full and meaningful life, even though one is not going to travel to all the countries, or try all the things.” foods of the world or it is not in all the restaurants, in all the beautiful corners and in everything that people teach on networks that you have to visit.”

Content saturation

Thus, videos of nights at the club that end with sunrises on the beach are being replaced by people staying home on a Friday night. There are hundreds of videos on TikTok that use the same audio while showing scenes of everyday life. “Honestly, my most toxic trait is that I don't have FOMO, I'm happy to miss out on things,” is heard in one of these posts which shows a woman placing a cup of tea on the bedside table while she prepares to read in bed.

“We are living in a moment of self-awareness, in which many people have realized that being constantly connected and trying to emulate what they see online does not make them happy,” says health psychologist Alicia Banderas, who researches the effect that social networks have on mental health. Her data proves her right. A 2017 study by the British Royal Society for Public Health shows that four out of five young people say that using Instagram makes their feelings of anxiety worse. In Spain, 25.9% of girls and 20.5% of boys between 14 and 18 years old admit to making “problematic” use of the Internet, capable of affecting their self-esteem and well-being.

“Hence, there are people who decide to disconnect, and who have found in JOMO a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the networks,” explains Banderas. However, this psychologist also warns about self-help videos that increase this label on social networks with content that preaches the need to miss things, while teaching Dazzling floors and coffee is prepared with a high-end machine. “This also ends up becoming a fashion, although the initial idea was precisely to move away in search of simplicity.”

For Patricia Ramírez, on the other hand, it is not contradictory that JOMO, like other popular phenomena among young people before, has such a presence on social networks. “Practicing JOMO does not mean that we stop using social networks, but rather filtering the content to find only what really interests us, instead of consuming everything indiscriminately. Furthermore, right now the networks have become one of the largest channels of information. It is normal to find out about these phenomena on Instagram or TikTok,” explains this specialist.

The virtue of restricting yourself

Sven Brinkmann furthermore highlights that when talking about FOMO, one often hears the objection that the need not to miss anything, to want to do and experience as much as possible are inherent in human nature. “It is a misconception. For most of human history, we have not lived with a philosophy of more and more. Rather, it has been a virtue to restrict oneself. It is something we see in most philosophical and religious ideas around the world. However, with the arrival of the consumer society, this was reversed, and people were taught that the meaning of life is to consume as much as possible,” Brinkmann counters.

Despite this saturation of content, experts recognize that in most cases FOMO is a passing stage, which almost automatically leaves room for its positive counterpart. “There comes an age, with maturity, when you have the ability to decide what you want or don't want in your life: what are the important values. And that's when you think that it's okay to miss out on things and that you'll even enjoy knowing that you've decided to give up and that you're not going to achieve everything. By reaching this conclusion, it already relaxes us,” highlights Ramírez.

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