The FOMO is Real

Intro to Mass Communication 215 Blog Post 2

In the world we live in now, staying present and being engaged is a legitimate problem. For example, it’s pretty common for me to sit down with my family or friends, talk and catch up for about 10 minutes, and then immediately retreat to staring at a phone or television screen.

Ben Huh and Amy Webb made very valid arguments when they discussed the importance of defining our own use of digital technologies. The saying “Program or Be Programmed” really resinated with me, because it couldn’t be more true in today’s attention economy. You can see this in almost every single task you do on your digital devices, where the developers are trying to personalize your online experience based on what they think you would like the most. For instance, websites do this whenever you are online shopping, in hopes of getting you to purchase more items. The image shown below says “If You Like This, You Might Be Into These”. They take your previous online shopping history and display ads of those items along the side bar of your screen, so that whenever you open up a webpage those ads will remind you of all of the really cute shirts that you contemplated purchasing.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 3.48.19 PM

This is just one of the ways that companies try to “program” us. I think that as consumers, we must remain aware of these types of recommendations, in order to stay conscious of our personal interests. While I do think that it is beneficial to have a suggested user come up on Instagram or Twitter who you may have common interests with, I believe it is equally important to remember that we are essentially being told who and what to follow. I would definitely utilize these ads in order to get the most out of your digital experience, but don’t spend too much time letting them distract you from what you already have.

Another concept that the millennial generation knows all too well is FOMO. This “fear of missing out” is very common, now that we have access to essentially everybody’s personal lives. I personally struggle with finding it hard to live in the moment, just because you kind of always have this voice in the back of your head, reminding you of something else you could be doing. I think that as you get older and become more confident in who you are as a person, you learn to quiet this voice in order to make an effort to enjoy quality time with loved ones. I know that it can be a tad overwhelming at times, with all of the emails and social media platforms to keep up with, but taking the time to step back and unplug when you feel like you need a break is essential to your well-being.

In order to find that balance between being present and staying connected, I think that we need to recognize that both are equally important. Writer Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” We must take the time to recognize that there is a time and a place for being on our devices, but that we shouldn’t be linked 24/7. For instance, try setting a new nightly routine where you turn off all devices one hour before you go to bed. Often times we tend to “relax” by having the T.V. playing, laptop opened up to work documents, and are scrolling through Instagram. This isn’t truly relaxing, and doesn’t set you up for a good nights’ rest. Finding a balance and having the self-control to put away our devices may not seem like it would make a huge impact, but I think we all might be surprised at just how immersed in the digital world we really are.

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