FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out is weird to me. It's defined by some scholarly
"...A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences
from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay
continually connected with what others are doing."
I'm absolutely guilty of experiencing that, even though I didn't really know
that that's what I was doing at the time. I just knew that I had a compulsion to
check everything all the time to get a nugget of an update to be a part of the
"conversation". I wrote a little bit about it in 'On Binging' earlier this year
(http://ymodem.org:70/phlog/2018/on_binging.txt), but I didn't recognize it as
FOMO until I started checking twitter again after taking a much needed vacation.
I started checking twitter again after I said I was going to take a break at the
beginning of the year. Mostly because twitter had a data breach and they
recommended that everyone change their passwords. I figured that since I had to
change my passwords anyway (and I am name-sqatting on my own handle so nobody
takes it, so I probably won't delete it any time soon), I thought I'd see what I
was missing. I was a little bit apprehensive, though, because I had used twitter
pretty heavily for a long time, and I knew how easy it would be to fall back
into the old habits of constantly checking and refreshing and fishing for
retweets and likes and the daily outrage and so on and so on, and how easy it
would be for me to lose the gains in productivity and personal happiness that I
had made in my hiatus.
So I tentatively logged back on and saw that not a lot had changed in the four
months I didn't really check it. It was mostly the same people with the same
things, but their posting volume was way down, or at least it seemed that way.
One of the first things I did was decide that if I was going to use twitter
(especially as a tool to promote my fledgling 8bit.fun media empire), that I
would make twitter a drama-free zone (I really liked not reading something for
fun and having someone in the middle of it interject that I should be outraged
at something or another). I was, and continue to be, merciless with the delete
button, the mute feature, and the unfollow buttons. That helped improve the
signal to noise ratio, but since I'd spent so long not chasing engagement, the
compulsion to check it all the time vanished and it hasn't really come back.
To put it another way, once I rejected the concept of FOMO, and once I stopped
defining my existence on the Internet as the sum of the people that have
engaged/liked/retweeted/favorited/et cetera the stuff I was creating, and I
stopped obsessing over analytics, it got a lot easier to create the things I
wanted, on the schedule (or lack thereof) that I wanted, instead of creating the
things that I perceived that people might want, on the schedule I thought they
wanted it. And when I stopped worrying about having to absorb the entire
video game or pop culture zeitgeist all the time, so I could have an informed
opinion when someone vented their spleen all over my social media (or vice
I've accepted that there aren't enough hours in the day or even my entire
lifetime to take in all of everything. I've also accepted that chasing the
current popular thing is an endless treadmill that I don't want to be on. I like
what I like, and I dislike what I dislike. I won't reject something outright
just because it's popular, nor will I embrace it.
Does that mean that I might miss out on some things that I would have otherwise
Does that also mean that I might stumble on some things that I might not have
otherwise given a second thought to? Definitely.
Does it also mean that I sometimes won't be able to have an informed opinion on
which of the current blockbuster movies is the best? Or about the plot twists
(or lack thereof) are in the latest book by ? You better believe
But none of that bothers me any more (not that it ever bothered me that much to
begin with), and since I stopped believing that I was in a secret club with
other people who liked the same things, and the way to stay in that club was to
keep liking the same things so we could all talk about how we all liked the same
things, I feel less pressure to do things just because that's what people do.
And that feeling is something that I've missed and am going to do my best to
hold on to.
Updated 15 May 2018