I take a tech Sabbath each weekend, which for me means no social media from Friday night until Monday morning. I have three basic things I do:
1. I delete the Facebook app from my phone. I have a wicked long password that I can’t remember, so no dipping into the mobile site either. (I don’t run Twitter on my phone.)
2. I turn off my laptop. If I need to use the computer over the weekend, I will activate the Self-Control program which blocks a bunch of sites that suck me in the easiest.
3. I do allow myself to check email, but I don’t respond unless it’s an absolute emergency. Everything else can wait until Monday.
It’s rough and imperfect most weekends. And I’ll admit, I peek into FB maybe once a day for a couple minutes, because there are times that something urgent and important comes in that way. But there’s probably some FOMO at work too.
FOMO is nothing new—it seems like an inevitable by-product of human consciousness. And what is FOMO but a twenty-first century iteration of “the grass is always greener”?
Martha Beck wrote recently about FOMO in Oprah magazine. She suggests three strategies, all of which I connect to Sabbath:
One: Recognize FOMO as the deception that it is. Beck points out that sites like Facebook are filled with the greatest hits of people’s lives—amazing meals, the kids’ soccer trophy—but they’re packaged as everyday activities. How can our real lives compete with everyone else’s carefully-chosen Instagrams?
Sabbath, among other things, helps combat the deception that everyone is doing this life stuff better than we are. We want to provide for our families, engage in meaningful work, give our kids every advantage, care for our homes and communities—all good impulses. But so much of our striving is grounded in fear that there will not be enough, that if we will fail to crack the code of The Good Life we will be left behind. We live in an anxious age. But Sabbath is a reminder that the world does not implode when you stop striving—in fact, there is great peace to be found in practicing contentment.
Two: Make up your own FOMO. Beck suggests a new acronym. Instead of Fear of Missing Out, she suggests some whimsical ones, from Feel Okay More Often to Flocks of Magic Otters (hey, why not).
May I suggest Find Other Modes of Operation. The mode that works for me is to unplug from technology for an entire weekend and to have a period of full-out Sabbath nestled in there somewhere. I will say that after a couple years of tech Sabbath, I don’t feel as much FOMO as I used to. But I still have to do it every week because I’m dense and a slow learner on this stuff.
What mode would work for you?
Three: Stop. Beck tells a story about having her adult kids visit. She was going crazy suggesting things they could do until her daughter said, “Stop.” Everything was fine… exactly as it needed to be.
Well that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Shabbat literally means stop. End. Cease. Rest.
Do you have Fear of Missing Out? How do you fight the FOMO?