Fact: We are all extremely online right now, which can be great for entertainment, but bad for our need to constantly keep up. Constantly tapping through your friends’ Instagram stories make it easy to fall fast and hard into a FOMO (or, fear of missing out) spiral, even in the era of social distancing. Virtual workouts, Instagram challenges, Houseparty game requests, Zoom happy hours — wait a minute, should we actually be posting ourselves doing ten push-ups because our friend tagged us in their video? Why is everyone posting up their first-ever couple photo? Should I be doing that, too? Do I need to take this quiz to find out which cast member of Tiger King I am?
Honestly, probably not. Instead of stressing out about all the things we could or should be doing, we’ve been switching our mindset to become more and more acquainted with FOMO’s chiller, no-pressure counterpart, JOMO — short for the joy of missing out. If you’ve ever been secretly thrilled when your friend cancelled plans, or skipped a night out to stay home and binge 90 Day Fiance, you’ve definitely experienced it.
“JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life,” Kristen Fuller M.D. writes on Psychology Today. “You do not need to compare your life to others, but instead, practice tuning out the background noise of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants’ and learn to let go of worrying whether you are doing something wrong.”
While FOMO is largely driven by societal pressure and the need to feel included, JOMO gives you the freedom to say f*ck all of that, and allows you to enjoy your own company. JOMO gives you time away from your obligations to prioritize yourself, work on that thing you’ve been putting off for months (it will take 15 minutes, we swear), or just kick back with your dog and catch up with whatever the hell has been happening on Vanderpump Rules this season. The time is yours to use however you see fit. Pretty liberating, right?
But just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, shifting your attitude to align with JOMO isn’t always an immediate thing. Because peer pressure exists, allowing ourselves to simply say no (without coming up with a weird excuse, for that matter) can be an intimidating thing to confront. Think back to the times you had a friend cancel on you in the past — which did you appreciate more, a convoluted excuse you knew was a lie, or a straight-up, “Hey, I honestly just need a night in?” Chances are, your friends will appreciate and welcome the same sort of candor. Give yourself permission to be honest, and to say no when you aren’t feeling up to something. It’s totally okay to be selfish with your time. It’s called self-care.
The JOMO mindset can also extend to your social media platforms. While unplugging altogether is an option, for us, that triggers yet another spiral into FOMO. What about the work emails we’re missing out on? Not trying to get fired here. Will my mom think I’m ignoring her calls?
Instead of going completely off the grid, scroll through the accounts you follow on your app of choice. Do you find yourself constantly trying to keep up with certain people? Are you comparing yourself to them until it’s a point of anxiety for you? Hard unfollow. Remove anyone who stresses you out from your feed, and replace them with accounts that post content you actually enjoy. Cute kitten videos, positive affirmations, slow-motion lipstick-smashing videos that make the top of your head feel electric in an ASMR sort of way — whatever floats your boat, fill your feed with it. If you’re going to be online, you might as well be looking at things that make you happy and contribute to your joy. Additionally, setting time limits on certain apps you find yourself scrolling through for hours could be an effective boundary to draw if you regularly go too far down a rabbit hole.
Next time you find yourself stressing about skipping that virtual yoga class or ditching yet another looming Zoom happy hour organized by a friend of a friend, take a beat and think about all of the wonderful things that could happen if you do decide to miss out on it. By simply slowing down, appreciating the present, and allowing yourself room to miss out on certain things, you’ll soon find yourself thriving in your own JOMO moment. We promise your friends will understand.