On a recent Friday night, I went to hear John Prine, an acoustic guitar player and songwriter that I have long admired – he was playing here New Orleans. A friend had casually mentioned to me that Prine was playing and I thought it would make for a great Friday night out.
Once we were seated, and the show began, I noticed a number of people in the audience were busy using their cell phones. I assumed (correctly, I think) that they were either: texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and / or Tweeting. And I wondered: why do people go to concerts, only to spend much of the event occupied with social media, rather than enjoying the music?
I think I may know why. There’s an acronym to describe it – FOMO, or, “fear of missing out.” Many people want to let everyone know what they are doing, and they want to know what everyone else is doing – so they don’t miss out on interesting conversations, events, or shared cultural experiences.
Our family dog, Eleanor Rigby, has a bad case of FOMO, and she doesn’t even have a phone – yet. Whether she is playing with a toy, enjoying a bone, or lying down, she’ll drop whatever she’s doing to trot along with anyone heading for the front door. She doesn’t want to miss out on a walk, or a car ride!
The problem with FOMO is that, while we’re making sure we don’t miss out on what is happening elsewhere – we are not present – we neglect what is happening where we are.
The internet is a great resource, but it’s habit-forming as mindless entertainment and it can distract you from being present. A November 2016 study published by Michael C. Patterson, Department of Education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, found that students with low levels of media multitasking while preparing for an exam scored significantly better than students with high levels of media multitasking.
If you think you may be over-using the internet as entertainment (I don’t mean streaming videos with your family), try taking a 30-day break from social media entirely. Replace social media with activities you enjoy, that help you relax, unwind and rest. Try enriching your mind, body and social connections. Enjoy your favorite hobby, read a book, exercise and spend time with your friends and family (and pets).
Go to concerts and listen! John Prine put on a great concert and, if you get a chance try to catch him live, be sure to do so. There is a huge difference between streaming music and live music, in my opinion.
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Until next Wednesday,