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From #FOMO to #JOMO

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It seems every online interaction with Millennials includes a hashtag: they post #TBT photos of their #YOLO adventures and lament their #FOMO when they can’t participate. It’s time to add another acronym to the dictionary: #JOMO. As it turns out, many are rebelling against the #FOMO culture their generation built and are opting out of jam-packed weekends for a quieter experience.

 

Social media is the Millennial equivalent of a local paper – albeit one that is mostly stories about people you know. Much evolved from the days of Friendster, MySpace, and the original, exclusive Facebook, social platforms are now show platforms. Nowadays, rather than just posting tiny snippets of one’s day, social media accounts are highlight reels of one’s life, carefully curated to craft an online existence worthy of wonder. From Facebook to Instagram to lifestyle blogs, social media can present a world of envy-inducing fun. It’s cyclical and, eventually, cynical: the more you post, the more your friends one-up, which fuels FOMO until you have to ask, mid-skydive, Is this even fun? Millennials who are constantly seeking authenticity are growing weary of the superficiality of social media and are engaging in a form of 21st century blissful ignorance otherwise known as JOMO.

JOMO – The Joy of Missing Out – is the act of intentionally choosing not to engage in an activity that would have normally, had you seen it on Instagram, driven you mad with jealousy. Instead of burning out by trying every experience, Millennials are opting for a quieter presence created through experiences they want to have. JOMO begins with putting down the phone and shutting off the computer to quell any urge for social comparison – the root of FOMO. The JOMO process can take many forms, yet a consistent part of the challenge is understanding and experimenting with being alone. From reading books to minimizing possessions, or even going to an adult camp specializing in digital detoxing, the objective is to eliminate envy and live joyfully in real time, in real life.

The JOMO trend is a positive one. Studies have found FOMO has real-life (and often serious) consequences. Though a virtual and therefore seemingly inconsequential phenomenon, strong FOMO is usually an indicator of low self-esteem and low levels of life satisfaction and has even been shown to cause social anxiety and lead to deeper health issues.1 Realizing its negative consequences, the youngest generations – Millennials and Generation Edge – are leading the charge to unplug from technology. But the reality is it’s not feasible to completely detach from phones, computers and the internet. Nonetheless, younger generations are making an effort.

It’s easy to point the finger at Millennials and Gen Edgers who won’t put down their phones to enjoy the present but technology addiction is a problem affecting every generation. And while often, the younger generations look to their elders for wisdom and experience, this is an area where everyone could take a cue from “kids these days” to turn off social media and experience the true joy of missing out.

1Abel, J., Buff, C., Burr, S. (2016). Social Media and the Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Assessment.

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Associated Tags: Advising Across Generations

Traditionalist, before 1946; Baby Boomer, 1946-1964; Generation X, 1965-1979; Millennial, 1980-1995; Generation Edge, after 1995

This information is prepared by an unrelated independent third party, BridgeWorks, and is provided for informational purposes only. Waddell & Reed, Inc., believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.

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