Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and pioneer of the children and nature movement, famously said “I’d rather hike than write.” I know what he means. Given the choice I’d rather be outside than in front of a screen any day. In my world, scrolling through my social media accounts doesn’t hold a candle to a quiet walk in the woods. The internet shorthand for that is JOMO, or Joy of Missing Out and I kind of love it.
Psychologists have described JOMO as the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. JOMO is about being present in the here and now, and focusing on connecting with the people around you in real life instead of constantly trying to keep up with the images projected by other people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds. JOMO is a state of mind and it’s typically achieved when we intentionally let go of the busy and choose to live a slower, less competitive life with less screen time and more face time.
Why I spend less time on social media
As an outdoor blogger (which in itself is an oxymoron!) I’ve always felt that ambivalence between wanting to spend more time with my kids outside on the one hand and using the internet as a tool to inspire others to do the same on the other hand. I’m far from living life unplugged, but after five years of heavy social media use and regular blogging, I’m happy to report that this has been the year when I’ve cut back on my online presence. It wasn’t something that I had planned or anticipated, it just happened.
For one, I moved back to Sweden in March, which means I now live close to my family and spend more time seeing them in person. Secondly, I went from being a freelancer to working nearly full time for one of my former clients, leaving me with less time for social media updates. Lastly, my oldest daughter got her own cell phone and a Chrome book at school, and I know that if I want her to have a healthy relationship with technology and social media, step one is for me to model it myself.
At first, my slacking on social media bothered me. I felt guilty about not keeping up and worried about falling into oblivion. After all, social media is part of what defines us today, especially if you’re a semi-public person who is trying to influence others. But after a while, once I quietly accepted that I can’t do it all, something amazing happened. I felt free. I became happier as a parent. I felt the taste of JOMO and I didn’t want to go back.
Technology is amazing and so is social media; I wouldn’t want to be without either of them for the world. At the same time, overuse is having a negative impact on both kids and adults. Just recently, a study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that social media can decrease users’ well being. Going into 2019, I want to continue my periodical “tech fasts” to keep myself healthy, grounded and present with my family.
One day a week, typically Sundays, the plan is to go screen free. No TV, no computer, no cell phone (aside from phone calls and for taking pictures), no social media. Instead we will do something together, outside, as a family. My daughters and I have written down ideas on little notes and put them in a bowl; each week we will draw one and do it. To say that I’m excited to get started is an understatement.
If you want to follow our adventures, you’ll find us on Instagram under the hashtag #screenfreesunday. (And no, the irony of using social media to encourage people to get off social media isn’t lost on me, but in my opinion this isn’t about total abstinence, it’s about finding balance.) Since Sunday is screen free, I’ll post on Mondays. You can tag along in any capacity you want; if Sundays aren’t good for you, pick another day. If you can’t do it every week, then try once a month. I hope that you too will find the beauty of JOMO!
14 thoughts on “The Joy of Missing Out (and How to Find It)”
Thank you for this Linda! I have been thinking about his for awhile and you put a name to it JOMO! That’s my New Year’s Mantra! I’m getting to caught up in the world. Time to take it to the woods. So happy to hear you are doing well.
So great to hear from you, Jenny! I always take to the woods when I need to get grounded; it works every time:)
Aah. so I call it finding the balance with work, family friends and social media. I keep thinking it and saying it and searching for it. Thanks for giving me the goal to put action behind my thoughts. ❤️screenfreesundays
Yes, finding that balance is definitely key here, regardless of what you call it! Thanks for reading; it’s great to keep in touch:)
What an AMAZING idea! Thank YOU for your inspiration. I’d love to try this with my husband. We’ll start this soon. ??
Thank you for reading! I’m so glad you’re feeling inspired; hopefully your husband will be on board as well:)
Happy New Year, Linda! It has been a year since your book landed in my hands and turned my world upside down. Thank you for you passion for outdoors and the message for all of us. I grew up in Russia, and somehow have succumbed to the the indoor American childhood culture. Your book made me get my four kids outside every day, and we have had our best year yet. I started a forest school playgroup and met like-minded parents. Although I was impacted by your book, and not social media, I can see how your message has reached so many through your blog.
I can totally and absolutely relate to JOMO, because I have never been active on any accounts. Until I made a decision to start a blog a few months ago and use my legal background to encourage people to start more forest and outdoor schools. (I do mention you and your book in this blog a lot, I hope it is ok). The blogging and social media can definitely overtake our precious time. It is a balance. Screen-free Sundays, and even weekends, is a great idea.
Thank you again for your powerful message. Our future generations depend on our kids’ relationship with nature. I cannot wait till your next book! You are going to write more books, right? 🙂
Anastasia – This is amazing. This is the reason why I wrote my book in the first place, to effect change one family at a time. And your blog looks great; I just signed up for updates:) Blogging and social media are a great way to reach out to people and I love the interactions and online friends that I’ve made over the years – it’s all about keeping the balance because it can easily become overwhelming. I’m honored that you’re citing me and my work on your blog and yes, I definitely hope to write more books in the future. Thank you SO much for sharing your blog with me and the world; I hope you’ll inspire others to join you on your journey:)
I came across your website and this post by fluke but happy I did 🙂
So inspirational! I really believe in the JOMO principle! Thank you for this post and for inspiring others ~ I look forward to checking out your book 🙂
So glad you liked it and felt inspired by it! Please do check out my book – I think you’ll enjoy it:)
A true reality which we have now lost and 24/7 attached to our screens. Great effort and i well said.
Thank you, Kamal!
I love this post! I quit social media a couple years ago and now only keep accounts to use for business that I don’t tell friends about. It is so freeing and gives me so much more time to get my girls outside!
I enjoy your blog and your book (I’m getting ready to read it for the second time!)
Thank you, Kassy! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed my book:)