The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Consumerism Vs. Creativity. Why We MUST Miss Out!
After following lots of blogs of amazing people like Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, Tony Robbins, Maria Popova, Marie Forleo, Freaconomics, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis etc., reading lots of magazines, articles, books I started feeling like I’m loosing my voice, like I just absorb, digest and remix everything creating nothing mine, nothing new, nothing worth mentioning.
Yes, everything is a remix anyway, and nothing is new under the Sun, nothing comes from a vacuum, we are all influenced by someone or something, and everything we create in one form or another is a remix of what we absorbed during our lifetime, but when we consume even the best content without a break, it leaves us no time for adding something of our own to the picture, to the world around us.
There is no time for adding our own melody to the mix.
Sometimes it’s necessary to go on a media fast and remove yourself from books, internet, newspapers, emails — anything that can make the glass fuller. We got to empty our glasses, our heads for a while to be able to create. We need to live space for creative process. It is as essential to being a “producer”, creator of content as absorbing good stuff from the world outside. Maybe even more essential.
Very often these days we hear negatively charged term consumer. And we definitely don’t belong to that category, do we? We think of consumption as of an act of getting and using physical objects or some tangible services. We don’t think about great books, smart magazines, articles, podcasts, about good quality content that is produced with amazing speed these days. There is so much MUST listen to, read and watch these days. So many amazing talented people are putting out there quality content on a regular basis. Daily. Hourly. And it seems like we have less and less time to be knowledgeable about all the up-to-date content, to be on top of things. There are just too many things these days to be on top of!
And we read, and we listen, and we watch. Days, weeks, months can go by and we still will have more to watch, to read and to listen. And we create less and less trying to keep up. It feels overwhelming. We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid, that if we stop consuming, we will become outdated, not relevant, we will be forgotten and passed by.
Fear of Missing Out, FOMO, seems like a new disease, condition that more and more people suffer from. Soon, if not already, it will be in shrinks advertising, titles of workshops.
“Come to our workshop and learn how to deal with FOMO effectively! Find peace again!”
We might be thinking we are learning, it’s all good we consume good quality content. We are doing something good for ourselves.
It’s still consumption.
Physical or not, it’s still consumption. Good or bad, it’s still consumption.
It overwhelms us. It stuffs our heads and hearts. It leaves no space for “me-time”. No time to create, to live, play, experiment.
It’s an absolute MUST to disconnect and go on a media fast sometimes. Give our brain some time to rest and properly, assimilate all the information that we consume daily, to make some sense of it, to digest it, to remix it, to integrate it into our own life experience.
We all heard or know something about the benefits of fasting, when we don’t consume any food for a period of time to give our digestive system some rest, so that it performs better and more efficiently. Somehow realization that our brain needs fasts too doesn’t come easy and naturally to us. Brain is an organ too, organ that needs rest to perform better, to produce good quality results.
I see human-beings as balanced input-output systems that need to be maintained properly.
Too much input — output is blocked. Too much output and soon there is nothing to put out there, we need to refill the well of creativity.
A lot of us became digital consumers, that is natural as more and more content moves from physical real into digital.
“Dematerialization”, “Digitalization” are the words describing new era, as Peter Diamandis put it in his new book “Bold”.
We don’t think. We just consume.
We speak with words of the smartest people. When faced with a challenge, we take advice from a book, or a coach, or a teacher. When asked for an opinion, we answer with a quote, or our version of it.
We start forgetting that living OUR life, being a part of a creative process means coming up with our own answers based on our own life experiences, coming up with our own solutions that are a remix of everything we absorbed plus (and that is an essential part!) our own thoughts, answers, experiments. Maybe we will not be the smartest in the room sometimes (that is boring anyway), but we will definitely add something of a unique value to the table, something that might be put in a new book. And we definitely will be an interesting indispensable part of the tribe and any party.
Teachers, gurus, scientist, specialists and experts summarize their experience and findings, share their best advice with us daily on every possible subjects. But that doesn’t mean that there is an answer to every question that we might be asked, or solution to every problem that we might have in our life.
It’s necessary to find our own answer, our own way of doing things, and that is not possible, if we only consume, leaving no time for reflection, experimentation and creation.
I find that I’m the most creative, when I have that perfect balance between consuming and creating. Very often I need very little consumption to produce the best results, come up with my best work.
It’s like with nutrition, consuming just the right amount of good food produces the best results. When we put too much in, even the best foods, we are stuffed, constipated, not able to do our best. We don’t produce better results with more, in fact we are less productive, have less energy, have less output. The quality suffers.
Our brain is exactly the same. It doesn’t need more and more. It needs just the right amount of external stimulation to produce mind-blowing results. Brain doesn’t function well when over-stuffed. Even with the best resources, best “nutrition”.
Sometimes more is truly less. And less is more.
When I think about creative process and rich life, I always remember one episode from a movie Pollyanna.
The girl in the movie moved to her aunt’s because she lost her parents. Her aunt scheduled every minute of the girl’s day with productive activities that were supposed to benefit her development.
Pollyanna, after listening to her aunt reading the list, asked: “And when do I just live?”
I believe learning, growing, consuming good quality content regularly is important. It shapes our mind and hearts.
But it’s also equally important to miss out, let it all go, play, experiment, forget about everything that is out there and just be you. Just live. Just create. That’s when we do our part. That’s when we enrich the world around us, add value, contribute.
Input. Output. Balance.
Maybe today is the day to shut down the computer and sign off from all your social media accounts? Close the book and forget that emails exist?
Maybe today is the day to face a blank page? Blank canvas or music sheet? Create a new Word document filled with your words? Record an empty MP3 file? Feel an empty room with music and dance? Or sound of your beautiful voice?