Jubilee and FOMO

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a blight on London life. It is why your mate is checking his iPhone under the table every five seconds; it is why you agonise over what to have for dinner; it is probably why you have a Facebook account, too. In Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (Hamish Hamilton) psychoanalyst Adam Phillips formulates an elegant argument about why what we don’t do is just as important as what we do do. Frustration is fundamental to satisfaction; regret is nourishing; not getting is good. I would have found it comforting if I didn’t have a hundred other books I could have been reading. (Richard Godwin, Evening Standard, 30th May 2012)

It was towards the end of last year when I first heard the term “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out”, and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it ever since. As soon as I heard the term I recognised it as the way I have been feeling not just since I’ve been back in London, but also while I was living in Japan. There’s just always so much going on, never enough time in the day, and no way I’ll be able to do everything no matter how organised I am and how many post-it notes I use (and believe me, my world is wallpapered with post-it notes!). Today, with the Jubilee weekend almost upon us, I seem more full of FOMO than ever.

In the same issue of the Evening Standard there was an article called Should I Stay or Should I Go? in which two writers were asked if the Jubilee holiday was a cause for celebration or a great chance for a four-day getaway.

Nirpal Dhaliwal responded saying that like many thousands of other Londoners he would be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend. He pointed out that it was a good time to get to know your neighbours and have a street party, and to celebrate being British (something people often regard as “somehow backwards or even sinister”). I agree that it would be nice to know the names of the people on my street but, as far as I know, no one is planning a street party (we could actually, and it would be lovely, as I live on a dead end street). If there were a street party going on I would no doubt pop down and join in, but I somehow can’t see it happening.

The other side of the argument in the article comes from Jasmine Gardner, the “Jubilee Jetsetter” who has worked out that this Jubilee weekend offers a “17 for the price of nine annual leave deal”. She has no qualms about leaving all the bunting behind and going off on holiday somewhere fuss-free, and I can’t say I blame her. If I had the money, I would be packing my bags for the airport to catch a flight to anywhere-but-here.

Sadly, I don’t have the money, which leaves me in London for the weekend. I’m sure if I was abroad somewhere, a little part of me would be wondering what I was missing out on back home, but I would be too excited by being in another country to really care. However, I’m here in England with no real distractions, left with this feeling of obligation that, seeing as I’m here, I really ought to join in. If I don’t do something for the Jubilee, will I regret it on Wednesday morning when I get back to the office and everyone is talking about what a jolly good time they had with their families and friends, or how amazing the flotilla was, or how many cupcakes they ate in the vintage village fete they attended? Will it haunt me forever that I wasn’t part of this historical event?

The fear has set in. I’m scared I’ll miss out on something good if I don’t join in some jubilee shenanigans, but actually I would love to have a quiet weekend at home catching up on blogs, tidying my flat, uploading photos, etc.

The next hurdle I stumble at is, if I do go out and do something, what should I do? Squeeze in with the rest of London (and half of the rest of the world, or so it seems) to watch some boats go along the Thames and hope for a glimpse of the Queen. Surely I’d get a better view (without the leg cramp) if I watched it on telly. Have a picnic with my friends in Hyde Park and watch the concert on screens? Er… isn’t that just like watching telly in the park (and it will probably rain…). The only event that might actually tempt me out of my cynicism is the event at Boxpark in Shoreditch, but only if the weather’s nice.

So, what are you doing for the Jubilee weekend? Do you have your bunting and Pimms at the ready? Have you already left the country? Will you be down at the Thames or in Hyde Park? Or are you going to hide from it all and just watch a bit of telly at home? Do let me know… because I’d hate to miss out on what you’re doing too! 😉

Union flags for the Diamond Jubilee

Social Networking your life away?

How many social networks do you belong to?  Can you count them on one hand?  I can’t…

Whether you’re Facebooked, Twittering, MySpaced out, Mixied up or Linked In, have you ever considered how much time you spend on these websites, and what they might actually be doing to your real social life?  I have, and I have become quite comfortable with my “online life” these days.  I think I’ve found a good balance between virtual and actual and, living in a different country and timezone to many of my friends, I have found that I just couldn’t live without social networks.  But to some, finding a happy balance between online world and real world can be a difficult task.

I check Facebook daily, even if it’s just to read the status updates of my friends (of which there are currently 152 – most of which I have met in real life, but not all), and I find that if I can’t get to a computer for some reason, I do begin to get a little anxious about what might be ‘going on’ on Facebook, without my being there to monitor it.  Unfortunately, my Japanese phone isn’t compatible with Facebook, so I can’t update my status from my cell phone like many of my friends do.  I recently read an article about a girl who tried to go ‘cold turkey’ and quit Facebook.  After just ten days she went back and reactivated her account.

My online life began with MySpace, back in 2006.  I was working in an office, and one of my friends there was obsessed with this website and kept showing it to me.  I had no interest and was a little wary of creating an online presence, but she convinced me it was a great way to make new friends and listen to cool music and, whaddya know, it was!  I was very cautious at first, and for a long time I insisted on using a picture of Nauscicaa as my profile picture, which attracted lots of anime geeks to my profile, but somehow felt safer than using a real picture of myself.

Eventually, my friends convinced me to use a real photo, and we even went out to have a ‘photo-shoot’ in our lunch break (which was actually a lot of fun!).  I used MySpace for a long time, and enjoyed starting a blog there, meeting new friends (many of which I have since met in real life and remain good friends), and discovering and listening to lots of great new music.

But MySpace seemed to die out a bit, and before I knew it all my friends were moving on to Facebook – the next big thing.  I stoically refused to join Facebook for the longest time, until one day I realised that none of my friends were ‘hanging out’ on MySpace anymore, and I would have to join Facebook if I wanted to keep up with them all.  At first I hated it, but now I’m not sure I can go without my daily fix.

These days I use Facebook and other social networking sites for two main purposes.  (1) To keep in touch with my friends and family, who are scattered over the globe, some of whom are too busy/lazy to write long emails, but will happily update their statuses or send me links to things I might find interesting. (2) To network my interests and promote my blogs.  I started writing blogs just for fun, but these days I want to be a bit more serious about writing things for people to read, and I’ve found that linking my blogs to sites such as Facebook can really help to increase my blog-traffic.

But I think we have to be careful.  During my ‘MySpace years’ I did go through a phase of being a bit too into it all, and I had to step back and think about my real life.  I was social networking my life away, at the expense of my real life. Social networking is all well and good as a tool to enhance your daily life, but don’t forget to go out and get a breath of unconnected, real-life fresh air occasionally… 😉