ISC Integration Party Fall 2011

Blame it on the texting generation. Blame it on Twitter’s 140 character limit. Popular culture today is heavily populated by all sorts of acronyms. From FML to FTW, these terms are oftentimes utilized in the form of hashtags to encapsulate a person’s current frame of mind. We could brush these off as fleeting moments of teenage angst or Millennial entitlement… Or we could dig a little deeper to see what YOLO or FOMO really mean when it comes to how you live your life.

You Only Live Once (So Be Careful?)

The anthem of young ambition and the absence of fear, the YOLO philosophy encourages riskier behavior. You only live once, so why not take the chance? Exclaiming YOLO, you may literally throw caution to the wind as you decide to go skydiving or pile on the credit card debt for an epic adventure. You could also make a lot of mistakes that you’ll surely regret later, but you know… YOLO.

Then again, perhaps the Lonely Island guys had it right with their YOLO song. If you do indeed only live once and if life on this Earth really is that precious, then why would you waste it on doing stupid, risky things?

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Intrinsically connected to the YOLO lifestyle is the sense of FOMO. I said YOLO folks are the ones without fear; the FOMO folks are the ones who are intensely afraid of missing out on what could be a great experience. They see all of their friends hitting big parties, apparently having an incredible time, and they don’t want to be left out.

The growth and expansion of social media has only exacerbated this feeling, because the social networks provide the stage on which everyone feels like they must perform. The problem is that there is a huge difference between the real you and the Facebook version of you. Comparing your real life to the life your “friends” portray is unfair. They have problems, struggles and monotony too; they just might not post about them.

Just Live Your Life (JOMO)

With every trend that we find on the Internet, we inevitably find the counter-trend. And in the case of YOLO and FOMO, we are now finding more people who proudly claim they’re of the JOMO mentality. Rather than fear missing out on what their friends are doing, these folks revel in doing their own thing. They’re experiencing the Joy Of Missing Out.

They don’t necessarily look down upon those who YOLO their days and nights; they would just rather do what they already know makes them happy. They can take joy in the little things in life, preferring to coil up for a quiet evening with a book, for example. They recognize that they could be missing out, but they’re okay with that. Taking on the JOMO approach is calming and is arguably more mature, though it runs the risk of complacency.

I will admit that I have suffered from FOMO. I didn’t go through many of the experiences typical of youth and I have felt opportunities slip between my fingers. At the same time, I am incredibly grateful for the life that I have been able to lead. I have great friends, an incredible wife and a rewarding career.

No matter what you decide to do, whether you YOLO your weekend away or you resign to some quiet JOMO-ing, do what feels right for you. As the song goes, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.