Do you suffer from FOMO?
Before we can even start to talk about curing yourself of this condition, it is probably a good idea to identify what it is. A simple search on Google presents us with a clear definition which will be the one I will be using throughout this blog post.
Google Search Dictionary
“anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media. “
As a long time sufferer from anxiety, I am not sure that many of us actually has the full version of FOMO but many of us actually have it in some form. And when I am referring to the everyone, I am not only including the ‘younger generation’ or those of us who are permanently attached to our mobile devices.
But this is not a blog post about casting an accusing finger or even a blog post which allows many people to nod, knowingly about those other people who have been exhibiting FOMO. No, this is a post which is about looking at ways to cure ourselves, and I include myself, from allowing it to have a negative impact on our learning.
When does it occur?
For me FOMO happens all the time, 24/7 every waking and sleeping but I want to address one period of time within this post and that is when I am learning or trying to learn. I am a very motivated learner, when I actually want to learn something, but often I am having to focus intently to learn things which are probably important but in which I have very little or no interest in. An example of this is probably something like epistemology.
the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.
i have no real interest in this but I recognise I have to know about it for my job. Now there might be times when you are less ‘engaged’ in a meeting, lecture or session where you might not see the ‘point’ of the session but at the same time need to be there. This is when FOMO can rear its head and attempt to lure you away from the learning/content on the meeting and impact on your learning. So, here are some simple ways to ensure that you are in control and not your FOMO or your mobile device.
1) Turn it off
Once you have read this first sub heading, you have probably already let your FOMO provide a series of excuses for not doing this. For example, you might be expecting an important call, what happens if your elderly parent needs help or even, it takes so long to turn things off and on again and even takes more power. Well this might be a step too far for some of you, it is for me, but it is probably the best remedy to cure us of the condition. However, I do feel that this can also exacerbate the problem as well since I would often spend my time thinking that things are happening and I am not being part of them. This would lead me to want to turn my mobile device on, just to check. So, if you are not ready for terminating your connection to the outside world while you are learning then I have another solution
2) Engage Christmas mode!
This is how I deal with my FOMO from day to day. I always carry my mobile devices with me and I rarely turn them off, probably only when there is an update or an issue or the battery dies on me. For the majority of the time I keep them on Christmas Mode. Now this is not a recognised term which you will find across the internet, mainly since I created it to describe my actions. You might know it better as turning your mobile device to silent mode or vibration. But for me it is more than this. I adore the run up to Christmas, knowing that on that morning there will be presents, great company and delicious food. When I am learning/working and my mobile device is on silent/vibration mode, for me it is like the approach to Christmas. I can feel messages coming in and I resist the need to check them. I just get that wonderful feeling of being able to look forward to something. Of course, there is never anything important and sometimes I am actually disappointed when I look at the incoming vibrations, but most of the time it is positive.
3) Keeping engaged with communities
Sometimes it might not be what we are missing from our online communities it might be more what we are contributing. Although I have never really been into Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are the micro blogging platforms which I engage with. For these, I like to keep involved and posting things but recognise that I cannot achieve this throughout the day, especially if I am teaching. For this I use either the scheduling function on these platforms or the worthwhile service of Buffer. The latter is rally good for me since I engage with Twitter more in stints so services like Buffer allow me to spread my involvement out throughout the day.
4) Put your mobile device somewhere else
This is very similar to turning your device off, but it can make it more difficult for you to engage with it when you feel the ‘urge’. If you phone is in your bag or in a different room, then actually having to rummage around in your bag or even having to get up and go to a different room will make another barrier which will be something you will need to consider. People will always make an excuse why they need their mobile device with them, but thinking about different strategies to cope with these situations is probably a better solution.
I was once told that no matter how many times you tell someone to stop smoking, it will only happen when the person themselves is ready to give up and I do think this is the same with your engagement with mobile devices. We all probably have some degree of FOMO if we own some sort of mobile device and are engaged with online communities, but I would say that it will only be when you want to act on your FOMO that things will actually start to happen. It is not about a new year’s resolution, it’s about changing your mindset.
Like everything, I suggest you start small and work up. When I think about learning and those moments we spend listening and learning to people I am reminded of the Alice Morse Earle’s quote (others have used it).
“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
― Alice Morse Earle
Think about this for each and every learning opportunity you have. And think about whether you really want your mobile device to spoil this for you. I am certainly not going to let mine have that impact on me!