The Joy of Missing Out

Last night, I visited a night club close to my campus for the first time.

As someone who doesn’t drink for personal reasons, it was beyond an interesting experience.

I didn’t fully understand what people were referring to when they said college is a 4-year long party until last night.

Not to disparage those who find ‘going out’ a fun experience, I found it to be the opposite. After talking to some friends who frequent these social gatherings more often I learned, they don’t either.

Naturally, I asked them why do they do it?

Their answer was two-fold:

  1. what’s the alternative?
  2. alcohol makes the experience more enjoyable.

I can’t speak much to the alcohol part because I don’t drink, but regarding an alternative, there are many.

For example, organizing a dinner with close friends, planning an activity, consuming or creating content as a group.

The reason these activities aren’t as exciting as going out the night club is that everyone is ‘going out.’ In our hyper-social world, we see what our ‘friends’ are doing in real-time. Watching others and making unconscious comparisons create the feeling of missing out (FOMO).

What’s interesting about the ‘snaps’ that make us feel like we’re missing out is that they’re designed to do just that. The person taking the picture or short video most likely went there to satiate their feeling of FOMO. It’s a self-perpetuating loop that spreads exponentially with each person who doesn’t want to miss out.

Would people still go to night-clubs if they couldn’t share it with their friends in real-time? Possibly, if the music is good and there’s enough space to dance.

I once heard on a Tim Ferriss podcast the opposite of FOMO is JOMO. The joy of missing out. I mentioned some of the ways to cultivate JOMO earlier, what I did not say, however, is that JOMO doesn’t have to be a multi-player game.

The status game people find themselves playing in their peer groups is multi-player. The beauty of missing out is that you can spend your time as you please doing things you want to be doing. Rather than playing a multi-player game, you’re electing to play a single-player game.

We’re not conditioned to play single-player games. Those who elect single player games become outliers. Depending on one’s mental fortitude this can be a double-edged sword.

I’ve experienced this myself, choosing to resist alcohol as a college student has taken more effort than studying and passing my classes. The social pressure to drink is immense.

I’m often not invited to social gatherings where people intend on drinking because I’ve declined too many invitations in the past. It’s also very uncomfortable for me to attend these gatherings too.

I’ve learned that I separated myself from the herd and the consequences became clear once enough time passed.

More than ever before, I feel focused because I’ve stopped worrying about what other people are doing. As difficult as it is to admit, I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with separation from the herd.

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