What Slack and Twitter Taught Me About FOMO

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a very real concern in these days of unlimited information and connectivity. It seems like an almost daily occurance you either say or have someone say to you “Oh! You haven’t heard/read/seen that?! ZOMG!” I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but it’s kind of a negative attitude. I’ve been working to 1. stop being that guy and 2. stop caring when I miss the most totally awesome thing ever.

Ten Thousand

I used to have all the things notify me of all the things so I would never miss anything. I also obsessed about reading my whole twitter timeline. These are fool’s errands. Not only are you never going to catch everything, but constant buzzing and beeping makes getting anything done pretty much impossible. That’s why I changed my IM to Slack, and changed how I use Twitter.

The most significant thing about Slack is that you don’t read everything everyone on your team posts. You can but you’re kind of not supposed to. If you need to see it later you’ll be able to find it. And if someone needs to address you directly they can @mention you and you’ll get a specific notification. What does that mean? While your coworkers are discussing an issue that doesn’t concern you, Slack isn’t annoying the hell out of you with fly over notifications and beeping. Later if you want to see what all the fuss was about you can go read the log and bam! you’re caught up. Staying in touch with the goings on of your office is way more efficent this way, and a lot less stressful.

I’ve been using twitter for a long time (my original account is gone, so I can’t prove it) and I used to read every. single. tweet. It made me not follow certain people because they tweeted too often. It made me obsess over which client I used so I could keep track of my read position in the timeline. It became a burden. Then recently I decided twitter (the company) is trying so hard to force me to not use twitter (the service) that way so I stopped. Now I read from the top until I see something I’ve seen before or stop caring. If I miss something? Oh well.

It’s not easy to go from the sweet-lie-you-tell-yourself of seeing “everything” to seeing only “not everything” but the result is a happier and less stressful life. Try it as an experiment: turn off notifications everywhere you can, and all the places you think you can’t. Set aside a time to look at those things. The first few days you’ll probably have the FOMO shakes, but once you detox, you’ll be amazed how much time you have that you used to waste on “keeping up” and task switching.

Remember FOMO is just the fear of missing out; the important stuff will find it’s way to you. And the rest? Well, it must not be that important.