Well the phone don’t ring ’cause my friends ain’t home.
-Bryan Adams “When You’re Gone”
The most addictive part of social media, smart phones, email, and our interconnection is what is called the fear of missing out. FOMO for short.
The world seems to be spinning faster and faster, and we race to stay up to the minute, connected, onside, informed.
But the hard truth is that when we forget to charge our phone, or get stuck in a meeting, or take a quick nap, the world spins on without us.
That “news” you missed is really 85 tweets all linking to the same article.
That phone call that went to voicemail was a recorded sales call.
And those folks you thought were your friends did not think of you once while you were catching some z’s.
FOMO is one side of a coin, the less talked about is the fear of being unavailable.
What if there’s an emergency? What if a forgotten high school friend is trying to find you? What if your friend needs someone to talk and you have your phone off?
Just like FOMO, this fear of being cut off is real, but it is also unrealistic. We are missing a functionally-infinite number of opportunities every minute, that is just the nature of life.
And yes, there are very possibly people who rely on your for day-to-day safety rather than some nebulous ’emergency contact,’ such as an older relative or parent. But you can better support them if you aren’t constantly tying up your time refreshing your notifications looking for nonexistant emergencies from people who would never call you anyway.
The real truth is that people will find you where you are.
I have lots of friends who are not on Twitter but are on Facebook. My brother is not on Facebook so I text him. We default to the easiest way to reach someone, the one with the fastest return and least friction.
I encourage work colleagues to email me because I don’t get back to phone calls as quickly. That is just the time management system that fits well with me. I do not have to play ‘phone tag’ with email. We can exchange information at a rate that works for both of us.
It is time to stop fearing missing out and start accepting missing out.
And as my mother always says, good or bad, news can wait til morning.