Position: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD

“You MOFOs and your FOMO! Sheesh! Get your MOJO back with some JOMO.” – Boris Spinovsky

body-odor-inferiority

In the realm of first world problems, the psychological condition of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) certainly reeks of privilege. That doesn’t make it any less of a challenge or diminish its impact as a mental health issue for those suffering from it. FOMO is related to symptoms like poor sleep, dissatisfaction with one’s life, and increased substance abuse.[1] But it does, after all, often stem from spending too much time on social media, which is unequivocally a first world invention. And spending too much time on anything indicates an addictive disorder.

Yet, speaking from decades of experience, FOMO isn’t new. It’s as old as humankind. Its modern manifestation, however, combines the recent toxicity of social media with the worst effects of 1950s era fear-based advertising. The combination of which can make even the most self-assured narcissist question their place in the universe.

FOJI

As the world’s least self-assured narcissist, I turned my back on every app Mark Zuckerberg ever touched five years ago and took up blogging instead. Aleta.life’s audience is a handpicked cadre of the nicest, best-looking people in the world. As such, it’s a safe space for me. If we wanted to, I am sure we could build our audience inorganically. We could pour money into advertising and building awareness of our adventures and our stories. But then we might lose our personal touch and have to cater to the needs of the masses. And suffer their opprobrium whenever a $5 word was used when a 50 cent one would have done as well. Just thinking about it gives me a little FOJI (Fear Of Joining In).

JOMO

Transito-Amaguana-t-shirt

That begs the question, what exactly is JOMO, the Joy Of Missing Out[2]? At one level it is, of course, the flipside of FOMO. JOMO promotors exhort you to toss your ‘smart’ devices and go ‘dumb’. A 90s style flip phone will do nicely. Something that makes texting so difficult you’ll actually call someone instead. The best devices have screens that are all but unreadable, making doomscrolling virtually impossible. Unable to live without the latest Primer Rebelde de América t-shirt? It looks like Fruit of the Loom on one of these things.

At its heart, though, JOMO is about enjoying the absence of an event or experience.[3] I am joyous that I spend 0 hours a year on Facebook, that I don’t attend Trump’s rallies, and no longer have to clean the plaster room at the Radcliffe Infirmary on night duty. Nor do I envy those that engage in such activities.

FREUDE!

I find practical experience is a thing of great joy. After all, as Woody Allen said, ‘Showing up is 80% of life.”[4] Having to focus on the task in front of you and solving problems of a profoundly physical nature makes me happy (despite the grumbling in the moment). Like figuring out how the fuel manifold works on a new boat. Then realising you understand how the levers work, it’s just you ran out of fuel and that’s why the engine won’t turn over. Practical stuff builds confidence, reduces stress, and makes for a great story over a pint in a pub sometime in the future.

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a gamer you are in cyberspace. Your universe is controlled by someone else – the programmers. Some might argue the same is true for our physical universe. That predetermination rules and coincidences don’t happen. Fine. For the rest of us there are weather forecasts and decisions to make. We live at the mercy of the elements, not an uninterruptible power supply.

NO MO FOMO

Does the idea of living small and sailing into the unknown leave me with FOMO? Perish the thought! In fact, I worry at times our JOMO lifestyle might trigger FOMO in the unwary. We really mean it when we say come sail with us. Assuming, of course, you and Aleta are seaworthy. Even if you’re not, come hang out in the harbour and dream of the ocean over a nice bottle of chilled Vermentino. Only, turn off your phone. Relax. Don’t worry, your messages will be there when you get back.


[1] the economist

[2] Never confuse JOMO with Jo’ Momma. Just saying. Don’t do it!

[3] theconversation.com

[4] the NY times


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