Friday, January 24, 2020

FOMO is causing you to miss out on life

A few nights ago, I attended a program at my local public library on the subject of technology addiction among teens and young adults. The presenter was a local mental health counselor, and she did a wonderful job of offering facts, sound advice, and helpful resources concerning this timely, and, in my opinion, scary, topic. The picture is not pretty. But I'm hoping that, by you reading this post, you can help make that picture a little bit better in your own unique way.

According to the facilitator, kids as young as 5th grade are texting their friends at 3am, and she's counseling a number of young adults in their early 20s who want to learn social skills - skills that have been significantly stunted by technology addiction. In fact, as research has demonstrated and as she noted in her talk, being addicted to technology can certainly be as damaging as being addicted to a substance.

During the program, among other things I learned, I learned a social media acronym that's apparently used frequently by teens and young adults - FOMO. It stands for, "Fear of missing out." According to this list of teen slang, emojis, and hashtags on, a valuable resource shared by the counselor, "FOMO is when a student (or adult) experiences anxiety that an exciting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often prompted by posts seen on social media."

I have a strong opinion on all of this: I think FOMO is destroying a precious gift that's been given to the world by slowly eating away at all the potential that this gift can offer the world. That gift - is you.

What you need to understand and accept is that you're never going to make every party, concert, gathering, or event. You're never going to be invited to every party, concert, gathering, or event. And you're never going to hear about, or see photos and videos of, every party, concert, gathering, or event that takes place. You can't control who attends, or gets invited to, or hears about, these functions. And you can't control how, where, and with whom others spend their time.

But I'll tell you what, and hear me out on this, because this is the whole point of this post - you can control your time. Every precious minute and hour that you've been granted in this life is yours, and yours alone. So instead of spending your time worrying about missing out on what others may be doing, decide to fill that time on things that bring you joy and meaning and good company. While you can't control how, where, and with whom others are spending their time, you can control every moment of your time. You can plan your own celebrations and parties. You can come up with your own invite lists and surround yourself with the people you care about most. You can decide for yourself which activities, which events, which hobbies and interests, and which people are worth your time. You can create opportunities for happiness and fulfillment out of thin air. You can simply will them into existence.

It's your life. It's your time to shine, and we each only get a limited amount of time. Some are fortunate to be granted more time than others, but eventually, the timer stops for all of us.

So how will you choose to spend your limited amount of time? Where will you spend it? And with whom? What - and who - brings you joy and meaning, and lights your soul on fire? Only you can decide.

If you found this post to be of some value, you may also appreciate a post I wrote a year earlier, "The double-edged sword of technology." This post discusses concerns that some students believe technology can replace their need to have to think. 

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