JOMO or “joy of missing out” is a popular counter to FOMO or “fear of missing out” intended to normalise not wanting to participate in a social event or preferring solitude over it. While it has been promoted as a healthy alternative, a new study by Washington State University (WSU) shows that most people who ranked high in joy of missing out reported high levels of social anxiety.
"In general, a lot of people like being connected," Chris Barry, a WSU psychology professor and lead author of the paper published in Telematics and Informatics Reports said in the official statement. “When trying to assess JOMO, we found that some people were enjoying missing out, not for the solitude or a Zen-like, calming experience of being able to regroup, but more to avoid social interaction.”
The researchers were surprised to find a correlation between the joy of missing out and social media use as they expected people who wanted to miss out on the events wouldn’t check updates related to them. According to Barry, this could indicate that social media may feel a less overwhelming way to connect than in-person interactions.
The research was conducted using surveys with two sets of around 500 participants, recruited through MTurk, Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform.. The survey assessed loneliness, social anxiety, social media use, personality traits and life satisfaction, according to the statement. The analysis of the first sample revealed connections among those high in joy of missing out with social media use and life satisfaction; however, social anxiety had the strongest correlation.
The researchers conducted another study to investigate if they could find people high in joy of missing out but without social anxiety. The group they found was small, representing 10% of the participants, according to the statement. Although this group of people were not socially anxious, they reported some moderate feelings of loneliness.
Previous research has linked the fear of missing out to low self-esteem and loneliness. Considering the present study, the findings indicate that there is still a lack of clarity in understanding the joy of missing out. Barry suggested that joy of missing out might be a momentary phase of needing to disconnect rather than a state linked to personality traits.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions like 'what's a good dosage of social interaction versus disengagement?' I think that's going to differ for everyone," Barry said.