"Seek JOMO, Not FOMO" by Rector Chris Girata
Seek JOMO, Not FOMO was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, October 8, 2021
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
I am no social scientist, but it doesn’t take much effort to find countless articles warning of social problems that come along with social media use. Study after study cite negative impacts such as feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. It can be a playground for cyberbullying, for self-absorption, and the modern evil of FOMO (fear of missing out). Mental and emotional health are necessary to promote, and anything that draws us away from health should be reduced or eliminated altogether.
Social media, for all its gifts and advantages, has been far more harmful than helpful and I think it’s time we recognize its troubling impact.
This column doesn’t give me time to address the true dangers of depression, anxiety, and cyberbullying, but I can address one of the more deceptively serious side effects of social media use: FOMO. Just a few weeks ago, I preached about the subtle dangers of FOMO and the negative rabbit hole one can fall into. Most social media users know the sensation of seeing wonderful photos of “friends” in beautiful places doing fun things and feeling as though they’re missing out.
That sense of missing out only gets worse when users begin to compare their normal, day-to-day with what seems so exceptional in online profiles. Never mind that people only post the best pictures of themselves doing the most exceptional things. The feeling of missing out—the FOMO—can begin to tear down one’s self-image and confidence. So, what’s the alternative? I think we can learn something from our dear friend, the pandemic.
The pandemic introduced us all to the idea of spending time away from crowds, away from travel, and away from the attempt to sensationalize our lives. While quarantined, many discovered the quiet joy of missing out on all the fun, exciting, and sensational experiences that had become a drug on social media. The beautiful idea of JOMO—the joy of missing out—was born.
The beautiful idea of JOMO—the joy of missing out—was born.
When Facebook and its family of apps crashed, social media users were given the gift of quiet and peace, if only for a few hours. That window caused many a bit of anxiety. I can just hear the internal dialogue of so many: How can I let everyone know what I’m doing right now, in this very moment, and I have such an awesome selfie to share?!
Perhaps we can begin to shift our opinions about social media use and try to find a balance between sharing our lives with one another and the sick dependence on validation that causes such pain. We can begin to recognize the gift while being sophisticated enough to guard against the danger. And we can help one another take a healthy step back out of the bad habits we’ve formed.
We are fascinating and beautiful and worthy of love—every single one of us. This can be a moment of invitation to all of us to reconsider how we choose to live. I can only hope that we can choose joy more and more. And when possible, choose the joy that affirms our priority to miss out on what is superfluous, to seize what is most important.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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