One pleasant side effect of quarantine is that many of us have discovered that we aren’t frightened to miss out on things after all. In fact, some people even find it really relaxing.
The term JOMO out was coined by blogger and tech CEO Anil Dash in a post about how he related less to FOMO since becoming a parent: ”I’d been mostly offline for more than a month, and during that time had barely checked in on anything online, and seldom even left the house. It was wonderful,” Dash wrote in July of 2012. “So the FOMO lament didn’t particularly resonate with me; I wasn’t missing anything. I hadn’t realized that I was not only not in fear, but actually in a state of joy,” he continued.
Billy Roberts, a therapist who specializes in treating individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has helped a lot of people deal with the anxiety and low self-esteem that comes with FOMO. Roberts has discovered that the joy of missing out, or JOMO, is a sign of enhanced mental health: “It’s only when people acknowledge their potential to live life in their own lane that I start to see them experience the thrill of missing out,” Roberts explains.
During the summer of 2012, JOMO garnered a lot of attention, but its popularity faded until lately. We’ve witnessed a revival of JOMO in the last 2 years, largely in the form of memes, a tendency that psychologist Erica Cramer attributes to a healthy perspective obtained through a brief absence from FOMO.
Prior to the pandemic, many individuals felt forced to accept any invitation that came their way, regardless of whether it was something they genuinely wanted to do. Having a legitimate reason to decline certain invitations allowed people to practice asserting themselves more successfully. Experts frequently discuss the need of setting boundaries for one’s health and happiness. In less clinical words, though, it simply means allowing oneself to not feel pressured to do something they don’t want to do.
Similarly, many outgoing people may have felt they were extroverts before the pandemic, only to discover after quarantine that they are more of an ambivert, or someone who gains energy from social contacts but also requires alone time to recharge.
According to Google Trends, JOMO searches spiked during the start of the epidemic and at the end of “hot vax summer” (when so many of us were socially overextended and psychologically weary), suggesting that we’re still looking for that delicate JOMO balance.
Even if JOMO is typically regarded as a beneficial side effect of quarantine, it’s crucial to remember that the pandemic was accompanied by a great deal of uncertainty, loss, and worry. JOMO may provide an excuse for those coping with these concerns to isolate, which could exacerbate their mental health problems in the long run.
The best method to distinguish between isolation and JOMO is look at the names. Is there any joy in this? So are the days of JOMO gone for good now that the pandemic is becoming an epidemic?
Evidence suggests that FOMO was causing anxiety and depression in people even before the pandemic. Researchers warned in a literature review on the subject that FOMO could be harmful in the long run. FOMO is a phenomenon partly created by social media, and it can return to your life as quickly as you can turn on your phone.
That’s why JOMO is so important: It’s about figuring out what truly made you happy before doomscrolling and Instagram posting became such a regular part of your day.
So cancel those drinks, cancel that party, or deny that invitation. But, if you’re only doing it to post JOMO memes and hang out on the internet, you’re likely missing the point.
Photo via Vecteezy