Social media users are happier and more relaxed when they embrace JOMO

You've probably heard the term FOMO or the fear of missing out. Now people are increasingly talking about its antidote: JOMO, the joy of missing out.

The joy of missing out (JOMO) is the much-needed antidote to the anxiety-provoking fear of missing out (FOMO)

Donna Crooks with her husband Andy and children Dominic and Cameron. (Marie Gosselin)

Social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's great to see what friends and family are doing. On the other hand, it can lead to FOMO—the fear of missing out—when you look at other people doing things you think you should be doing but aren't.

"FOMO has such a visceral feeling about it," said Donna Crooks, a Regina-based entrepreneur and mother of two. "I've experienced it both personally with social media and at work."

Crooks regularly checks social media for personal and professional reasons and recently noticed an acronym trending for JOMO, the joy of missing out. The hashtag has over 80,000 mentions on Instagram alone.

"When I came across the term JOMO, I really loved it," said Crooks. "It gives you that freedom to be yourself and accept what makes you happy, not worry about what makes other people happy."

Crooks tested it out on a recent weekend by not checking her social media accounts. Instead, she focused on laundry, yard work and spending time with her family and ultimately felt more relaxed.

"I don't need to be on my phone on the weekend," said Crooks. "I can focus on engaging during the week and so I like the idea of continuing that practice."

With a third child on the way, Crooks says being present to what matters most in her life has never been more important.

Jumping on 'the JOMO ship'

One of the early pushes for the term came from Canadian author Christina Crook who published a book called The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World and regularly posts videos about it on her YouTube channel.

"JOMO is the joy of missing out. It is the opposite of FOMO, the fear of missing out," said Crook. "We want you to come aboard. Come on down. The JOMO ship."

The concept has gained so much traction that it was displayed on the big screen at this year's annual Google developer conference, while Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke about users' digital wellbeing.

That led to new functions in Google products to limit our use of phones and social media.

'People are developing anxiety and depression'

Canadian psychiatrist and author Marcia Sirota is a fan of this concept. She says the push for JOMO reminds us of what's important.

"Some people are developing anxiety and depression because they feel that they're missing out on all the fun that everybody else seems to be having," said Sirota.

According to Sirota, curated images of happy times on Instagram and Facebook distort reality and her clients talk about how it negatively affects their self-worth.

Canadian psychiatrist and author Marcia Sirota's most recent book was called Be Kind, Not Nice: How to Stop People-Pleasing, Build Your Confidence and Discover Your Authentic Self. (Natalie Young)

"We think, 'man, you know my life isn't as fun or exciting and my friends aren't as cool as these people,'" said Sirota. "It gives people insecurity. It makes us feel anxious and like we're a loser."

Sirota's hoping we turn that negative into a positive by embracing JOMO and its hopeful connotation that missing out is a good thing.

"If it isn't a sustainable idea, it's just going to mean that most of us are running around like chickens with our heads cut off feeling miserable all the time because nothing is ever good enough; we're not good enough, our friends are never good enough," said Sirota. "The joy of missing out should be a sustainable idea, if only because we need it so much."


Jason Osler is the national 'trends' columnist for CBC Radio.


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