Embrace "JOMO" Instead of "FOMO": The Joy of Missing Out


The brilliant Anil Dash wrote a piece a while back called "JOMO!", in which he coined the phenomenon Joy of Missing Out, flying in the face of the concept of the Fear of Missing Out. 

His theory is that feeling like you're missing out on important stuff on the Internet—FOMO—is kind of the same thing as living in New York City and being constantly aware of all the amazing concerts, openings, previews, festivals, pop-ups, and in-crowd activity that you're inevitably not participating in. And that experiencing acceptance of—and joy in—missing out on these things, whether it's in real life or by way of Instagram, is awesome. 

He writes:

There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping.... Being the one in control of what moves me, what I feel obligated by, and what attachments I have to fleeting experiences is not an authority that I'm willing to concede to the arbitrary whims of an app on my mobile phone.

I've always needed alone time to reboot after a long work day, or a crazy afternoon in the city, or a jam-packed trip. (When I read Susan Cain's Quiet, I felt like she was inside my brain.) Even still, I've experienced jealousy or insecurity over other people's epic photos or tweets or snaps.

As Dash writes, "We're keenly aware that our constant connection to those who are doing things that are exciting, engaging or novel can make us feel let down with our humble circumstances."

But in recent years those feelings have faded, much like what Dash has experienced. As I've gotten older, I've narrowed in on what really matters to me and what I need to be fulfilled and content. Quality time with close friends and family. Amazing meals with good food, good drinks, and good conversation. Incredible cultural experiences—live music, theater, art. Long bike rides. Jogs through Prospect Park. Browsing through markets, of the farmers' and flea variety. Cooking for friends. Or with friends. Reading on the couch with a strong cup of coffee. Writing on my laptop, at home or at our neighborhood coffee shop. Exploring a new city, or a new neighborhood in my own city. 

Sometimes opting into something, rather than Missing Out, is what makes me happy. Sometimes it's the reverse: choosing NOT to participate. And both are OK. 

An important takeaway from Dash's piece about JOMO is this:

So often, we point the finger at our technologies for creating the fears, the insecurities, the tensions that arise in our social lives as they get increasingly run by social software.

But it's not Snapchat's fault that you're jealous of your friend's luxurious vacation to Greece, or Twitter's fault that you feel shitty about the conference you decided not to attend. Those are your own feelings. And you can flip them around to instead embrace the fact that you're not a part of those experiences because you're doing something else instead. Doesn't that sound so much less exhausting, and healthier?

Screw FOMO. Embrace JOMO.