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One Great Response to FOMO

Hilariously, everyone I meet across the nation has heard of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Fewer have heard of the other fears students say they have today:

  1. FOLO: Fear of Living Off-line.
  2. FOMU: Fear of Messing Up.
  3. FOJO: Fear of Judgment On-line.
  4. FOMIRL: Fear of Meeting in Real Life.

All of these fears have apparently surfaced because of our 24/7 connection to our phones, and in particular, social media feeds. We seem to be addicted to them. Most of the students in our 2017 and 2018 focus groups acknowledged that they not only own a smart phone, but they are addicted to it.

So, what could be an antidote to this FOMO dilemma?

How About JOMO?

Have you heard of it? JOMO is the Joy of Missing Out. It is a complete opposite of the fear sentiment, that has teens at the mercy of all things going on in cyberspace: the fear of missing out on the party, or the best vacation ever, or the latest Buzzfeed article, or Instagram post or the conversation between friends. You name it, it’s going on now.

JOMO turns FOMO on its ear. Teachers, coaches and employers are encouraging it across the country. According to one LinkedIn article, “Instead of living in perpetual fear of missing out, many are embracing a new approach to our always-on, tech-dependent lives. They are taking the time to tune out.”

As I mentioned, some call it JOMO, or the joy of missing out.

The LinkedIn article continues,

“Amid growing concerns over the detrimental effects of our digital habits, a growing number of companies have begun to take steps to encourage people to disconnect. Google and Apple have both jumped on the bandwagon, adding features to their mobile operating systems that help users track their digital use. The challenge is real: On average, adults spend four hours a day with their social feeds. And 70% of employees say they do not disconnect from work even when they’re on vacation, according to a LinkedIn survey.”

So, what keeps educators or parents from encouraging this?

“I don’t think there’s any possible way my kids would do it,” replied Tammy, a teacher and mother of four. “I’ve told them that too much phone time is bad for them, but they just smile, and say, ‘I know’ and then, continue scrolling their screens.”

But what if we were bold enough to challenge them?

The JOMO Challenge

What if you met with your students and in a dead serious manner, gave them the JOMO Challenge: to unplug for a half a day, or a whole day, or even more? I know athletic coaches, faculty members and parents who’ve all given them this challenge, and though the students balked at first, they took the challenge and it worked.

In each case, the adult leader offered this list of benefits of JOMO:

1. You will experience a freedom from the tether of your phone’s constant ping.
2. You will be able to fully engage face to face, with those in front of you.
3. You will develop the social and emotional intelligence employers desire in staff.
4. You will experience peace of mind and be able to focus on one priority.
5. You will begin thinking for yourself instead of depending on others’ opinions.

Start small. Challenge them to experience JOMO for an afternoon. Later expand your challenge to be for an entire day. At first, students usually experience deeper anxiety because of what they imagine there are missing out on. Eventually, however, other marvelous emotions emerge inside of them, the ones that were once normal for us.

Here’s to JOMO this next school year.


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One Great Response to FOMO