GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - You've probably heard of the term FOMO—fear of missing out. It's a big motivating force in the world.
But have you met FOMO's arch-nemesis JOMO? Not the Michael Jackson noise ‘jahmow,’ but the acronym J.O.M.O., which stands for joy of missing out?
I met this phrase over the weekend, and the more I reflected on it, the more I realized how vastly and deeply important this is right now.
Think about all the things we use smartphones for. How often do we stare at it, unlock it to the bell of an email, or refresh notifications to fill seconds of boredom?
On average, we check our phones 47 times per day, according to a study by Deloitte.
We average four hours on them per day; that's 56 full days a year looking at your phone.
Have you ever thought about turning it off for a day? If not, how come?
Well—confession—I didn't either, until I was forced to.
I just got back from a wedding in a small, stunningly serene Montana town.
While there, I experienced an unusual phenomenon: no cell service for four days.
Some may laugh, but there was legitimate withdrawal for at least one day.
No emails, no internet, no weather updates, no tweets, no YouTube, no Fortnite, no good social media and no bad social media. No. Media.
Then the symptoms subsided.
Soon I was looking up at a mountain waterfall and down 20 feet through the crystal-clear lake fed by that waterfall.
There were loud boisterous conversations, bonfires, dancing, laughing and engagement without a chance of escape to a phone.
This was pure, unfettered JOMO.
“Everything you say is actually physiologically true,” said Catherine Price, a New York Times contributor, a science journalist and author of five books including "How to Break Up With Your Phone."
“Meaning if you spend all your time constantly refreshing and checking, you are teaching your brain to release constant spritzes of dopamine, which is a brain chemical that tells us something is worth doing again.
The flip side is that when you activate the cycle, which is the same system activated when you do things like drugs and alcohol and things like gambling, then you actually begin to release stress hormones when you can't check (your phone).”
While debate remains if smart phones are actually addictive, Price points out the similarities between smart phones and slot machines: the bright colors and noises, the sense of anticipation and unpredictability.
Think about how you respond, seemingly subconsciously at points, when you receive a ding notifying of a new text or mention?
“The important thing there is to recognize that slot machines are designed to be one of the most addictive machines ever, and everything in the slot machine is designed to keep you playing it,” said Price.
She is not saying throw your $500 iPhone in the river. She's saying it's time more folks reassess their relationship with their phones and realize why they feel certain ways about the devices.
If you want to answer the question on your own, "Are you addicted to your phone?" Price suggests taking the 30-day Phone Breakup Challenge and see how it feels. It’s not 30 days without your phone, but a guide to adjust how your phone habits.