I was listening to Triple J on the drive home last night and Liam Finn (nephew of Neil Finn of Crowded House fame) was a guest on the show. He was introducing his latest album, FOMO, which, he said, was filled with songs written from a perspective of his own life and the pressure he felt when returning to New Zealand from his busy concert and recording period abroad.
He found that, while being away from the high-tech, high-speed life of the big city was good for him in a recharge/refresh sense, he would go to bed and sleep would escape him because he had become so accustomed to doing things, going places, and seeing people every day. He had become fearful of missing out on life . Hence the title of his album is an acronym for “Fear of Missing Out.”
I wonder if that is the reason why this generation has taken to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. Afraid we might miss out on something, we have tied ourselves to checking our mobile phones or computer screens all too frequently to see what our friends (or twiends!) are up to, who they’re with, where they are, and what they’re feeling. Then we must update our status to let them know the same about us. When we’re not “connected” we feel like we’re missing out in some way on what’s happening in our world.
Many people do this in other ways: being engrossed in hearing or reading the latest news from CNN, NineMSN or NewsRadio. Some feel compelled to keep track of sport or weather. Media outlets dedicated to keeping the public informed rely on this for their livelihood every day. Maybe a story will break and I won’t know because I didn’t subscribe to the right RSS feed, turned off the TV or radio, or check in on the website that has all the latest details and video footage. . . .
How much does FOMO keep you and I from enjoying—genuinely relishing—the present moment? Does this FOMO make us jealous? Anxious? Envious of someone else’s lot in life at the moment? When we update our status, are we unconsciously attempting to paint our life so our friends will think they’re missing out on something?
Last night I made a decision to take a leave-of-absence from Facebook for a while. Those who know me know that I am a frequent user and, often, it may seem that I’m addicted. So I thought I’d see what happens if I make a break for a time. Some things may still appear on my Facebook status (like these blog post links and places I visit/like on the web), but I won’t be checking my messages, updating my status, or looking at anyone else’s status or pages for a while. I’m not sure how long this experiment will last—it may well result in my leaving the social media altogether. Regardless, I’m hoping it will bring some much-needed perspective and help me to spend time on areas of my life where right now I can see I’m missing out.
I’m not saying this is something we all should embrace, but for me I need to cast out the demon of FOMO and live in the moment, every moment.
Liam Finn mentioned on his interview that, while he got over this fear of missing out, this episode in his life brought the present into focus in a more real and meaningful way. To some extent, I think that’s something we all need.