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Why JOMO Should Be The New Mantra For Every Millennial Out There

Why JOMO Should Be The New Mantra For Every Millennial Out There

Last week, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a relatively new term: “JOMO”. While I had heard about “FOMO”, the “Fear Of Missing Out”, it was only a while ago when I came to know that “JOMO” actually means the “Joy Of Missing Out”. The inclusion of the term in the Urban Dictionary has been fairly recent. The Urban Dictionary defines “JOMO” in two instances as the following: “You’re enjoying what you’re doing in the here and now and not on social media broadcasting or seeing what everybody else is doing. Opposite of fomo or the fear of missing out.” Further elaborating on the same, it also defines “JOMO” as “Short for ‘joy of missing out’ and an antonym to FOMO, that means that you prefer being unavailable and deliberately risking to miss a party that could be the greatest of all time, because (to be honest) you really don't care and rather stay home and watch that new Sandra Bullock movie.”

When I casually discussed with one of my friends about what I had discovered, he was pretty surprised and even amused that such an acronym existed. He found it very strange and was quite perplexed at the idea that there was a certain joy attached to missing out on all the fun. He said, “It sounds really sad.” While it isn’t uncommon for people to feel this way, let us have a look at the reasons behind this very thought process.

The millennials of today find the need to keep their social media handles constantly updated whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Back when I was in middle school, Facebook was still in its initial stages and all of my classmates were extremely excited to join it. Many of them even faked their ages and surnames while creating their profiles, in the fear of getting caught by their parents, and most of them had secret accounts up until high school. Before we knew it, everyone was caught up in a social media frenzy, putting up multiple posts online, frequently updating their status, and, of course, tagging every other person in never-ending pictures. Soon enough, the number of friends one had on Facebook went on to determine how popular he or she was considered to be in high school. In short, your social media image reflected your real life image since everyone’s opinion of you was largely based on the former.

Somehow, I happened to escape the trappings of social media when I was in school. While most of my friends were on it, I wasn’t very keen on joining Facebook or Instagram back then. I would hear my friends constantly complaining about how addictive these apps were and I found it extremely funny when they would dramatically alter their pictures, just so that their lives would appear to be more interesting on social media.

Although I resisted joining social media for a long time, I succumbed to it eventually. Few months before I started college, I ended up joining Facebook, not only to keep in touch with my old friends, but also because I did not want to miss out on important things. Now that I would also be joining college shortly, it was my only way to be connected to the rest of the world.

However, even after creating an account, most of my friends still said that I was as good as being invisible on Facebook, only because I didn’t want to put up pictures (in spite of the frequent reminders), be tagged in any photos or even share any posts on my profile. I restricted myself to simply liking and commenting on the pictures and posts of my friends, for the sole reason that I firmly believed in keeping my personal life private. Facebook was now considered to be the more mundane social networking site that was popular among the older generation while the younger generation, on the other hand,  seemed to be joining relatively newer, exciting apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

Another friend of mine,who had also made her social media debut recently, encouraged me to join Instagram, as she felt that it was a positive space which would ensure me my required privacy. Only approved followers and no one else can see one’s activities, if he or she chooses to keep his or her account private. So when I finally decided to be active on Instagram, I was a little more selective in terms of following various people, as opposed to Facebook, where I was friends with almost everyone from my school who came up in my recommendation list, even if I hadn’t interacted with or known them personally.

My experience with both the apps has been completely different. Even though being on social media has been extremely empowering in many ways, it has also been equally challenging. Sometimes, when I look back at my high school years, I reflect back upon on how much more simpler my life was sans social media, because the moment I was on it, I would keep refreshing my feed for new updates, feeling like I wasn’t doing enough compared to my peers and was always on the lookout for anything fun and eventful that was happening in the city. This was the first kind of “FOMO” that I experienced in my late teens.

The second kind of “FOMO” was the kind that resulted from peer pressure. Since a lot of my friends would always hang out after college or party every other weekend, I felt like I wasn’t making the most out of my college life, as I was not being as social as everyone else. However, once I started going out a lot more than I used to, I found myself to be both mentally as well as physically drained. I didn’t realise this until one evening, my friend and I were both extremely relieved to get back to her place after a usual girls night out,which wasn’t generally the case, and I was absolutely okay with the rest of them joining us later;  it gave me more time to unwind in some much needed solitude.

This brings me back to Carl Rogers’ theory of self-actualization wherein he talks about the person’s ideal self,who they would like to be, and what their actual behaviour is like, their self-image. For a person to achieve self-actualization, the two selves must be congruent to each other. For most of us, whatever we see on social media is far from reality. We only see what people choose to show us. Most of the time, we don’t even realise that most people might be facing their own internal struggles, even though their fascinating stories on Instagram may show otherwise. Even though, someone out there might be the “life of the party”, you never know how they are feeling on the inside.  

The examples mentioned above are the result of “FOMO”. “FOMO” forces people to seek a false sense of validation from an ideal version of everyone’s sense of self, which in turn leads them to create unhealthy expectations for themselves. If they don’t meet these highly unrealistic standards that they set for themselves, they often end up in a vicious cycle of self-loathing and disappointment.

“JOMO”, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of “FOMO”. “JOMO” gives people a chance to breathe. More importantly, it dwells upon the significance of taking time off for oneself and making one’s mental health and self-care an important priority. It practically saves us from the guilt trip everytime we think about cancelling plans for catching up on our sleep, leaving a party early to watch another episode of The Office, taking a break from social media once in a while to do be more productive, or even just wanting some personal space to regain the missing balance in our lives. It also saves us from a lot of time that we would otherwise spend in coming up with captions for our stories, repeatedly checking for and replying to anyone who comments on our posts, or even trying to maintain a successful Snap Streak with someone, when we are the least interested in doing the same. Just like how The Big Bang Theory made it cool for all the nerds out there, “JOMO” makes it equally cool for all the introverts, who have desperately been trying to make everyone understand the same thing for a long time now.

While many people are still trying to wrap their heads around the idea of “JOMO”,just like they are around the importance of mental health, it is quite evident to see that “JOMO” has become a positive trend recently, since it subconsciously encourages us to regularly put on blinders and shift some focus back into our lives and aim to be better versions of ourselves. By doing the same, we start bridging the gap between our ideal selves and real selves, which, hopefully, is almost as close as we get to reality.

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