Monday 24 October 2016

Working it out: I am no longer FOMOing at the mouth

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

Email addicts are hooked on temporary short-term reward
Email addicts are hooked on temporary short-term reward

I sat in our office meeting-room, going through the plans for the week, as is our habit on Monday after midday. We were making good progress when my phone rang. I ignored it. Eventually, someone pointed out that my phone was ringing, and since I am not hard of hearing, I felt it was fairly obvious that I knew that. "But you always answer your phone," she exploded. Not any more.

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Apparently, the disease I feared I was developing is known as FOMO - fear of missing out. My particular version is INFO FOMO, which is fear of missing out on information.

The reason this is an issue is that most of the information that we are being swamped with these days is irrelevant, meaningless or annoying.

People get addicted to social media and are constantly checking their Twitter and Facebook and sending and receiving messages and checking to see who is replying, and after a while they are checking all the time to see if they still exist. No one has responded and they feel left out. Their cyber contacts have become more important than the people in the real world. There are people who do this in bed when they are not alone. Even touching your phone in bed without a very good reason and your partner's express permission is beyond rude and should result in a P45 before breakfast time. I do admit to being guilty of this shameful act before I copped on.

There are email addicts who are hooked on the temporary short-term reward they get when someone mails them, probably even if it is some rubbish about giving them a share of the €10m that is waiting in a bank account for them. People become unable to concentrate because they have to check their 'on line' existence repeatedly. They cannot watch TV without another screen and the result is that instead of paying attention to two devices they are paying real attention to neither. Dual screening can be fun. In the short term. I sometimes use it when watching the golf because there is a community watching the same thing. But it so easily gets out of hand.

I met someone recently who has instituted a screen-free night for her husband and teenage children. It was resisted at first, as much by her husband as by their offspring, but they gave it a try.

During the winter months they read books, play games, and horror of horrors, actually talk. In the summer, there is gardening and more walks. Now they not only do it on Tuesdays but have all stepped back from their screens a bit on the other nights. They do allow an exception if there is some very compelling work or schoolwork reason, but have found that this hardly ever happens.

A colleague told me that there is a great App that you can set to turn off your wifi at particular times and that sounded like a good idea to me until I remembered I have CCTV on wifi. Here's to being screen-free, and burgled.

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