You will feel like throwing away your phone after this article

With the world unfolding beneath your fingertips, why would anyone want to disconnect?

Jomo - or the joy of missing out - requests people take a break from their digital love affairs, and connect with their offline environment. Photograph: iStock

Jomo - or the joy of missing out - requests people take a break from their digital love affairs, and connect with their offline environment. Photograph: iStock

 

Jomo – or the joy of missing out – is the sibling of the millennial mantra Fomo or fear of missing out. Jomo refers to the unthinkable; it asks individuals to commit an act only acceptable when airborne or conserving battery. Jomo requests people take a break from their digital love affairs, and connect with their offline environment.

Society is developing into a world of tech addicts, a generation that can have an in-depth conversation using just emojis, yet are baffled by the suggestion that they converse with the person sitting across from them. It is not unknown for employees to indulge in bathroom (Instagram) breaks and under-desk texting throughout the day.

In 2017 Deloitte released a survey which found that half of all UK meals eaten at home were interrupted by individuals reaching for their smartphones. The study also found that over 4.5 million people (11 per cent of respondents) used their phone while crossing the road. And 41 per cent of those surveyed in a relationship stated they felt their partner spends too much time on their smartphone.

With research promoting the harms of excessive technology use, even tech giants are beginning to advocate in favour of Jomo. Two of the largest smartphone developers Google and Apple have announced measures to try and combat digital overuse. They will both launch tools to help users track how long they spend on their device as well as notifications to remind them to enjoy a little Jomo.

FedEx have asked their employees to leave smartphones at home. Irish hotels including Kelly’s hotel in Rosslare, The Monart destination spa in Wexford and Aghadoe Heights Hotel, Killarney have implemented initiatives to encourage guests to disconnect and embrace their surroundings.

Digital health

While these actions appear positive, however, the issue of keeping your digital health in check may be more complex than a hunger for the latest Love Island scandal or updates on Brexit. Can neglecting your “digital health” have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental wellbeing?

Peadar Maxwell, a Wexford chartered psychologist, says “staring, head down into a screen does not facilitate the development of communication skills such as understanding facial expression and the emotional parts of the language”.

Maxwell agrees with researchers who suggest digital devices can be addictive. “Their use can alter our mood, triggering feelings of satisfaction [more likes] or loneliness [everyone else looks great or is having more fun]” he says.

However, this all sounds like a breeze until you are 20 minutes into your digital purge and spot the perfect Instagram shot. Aidan Healy is a co-founder of UnPlug a specialist consultancy which examines how technology shapes the way people interact with the world. He offered some practical tips on how to kick-start your digital diet.

Do a digital de-clutter. Healy suggests people should treat their phone like a wardrobe and carry out regular clearouts. “What apps are on your phone, what things might you be subscribed to, who’s on your social media feed, what notifications are you getting, what interrupts you?”

Second, he offers a simple rule to remind people when they need to inject some Jomo. “I would say when you are with people, and you really want to be with them, I think that should be ‘protected time’.”

Lastly, you may need to accept your relationship with technology is dysfunctional and you could be using it as a crutch to avoid more distressing aspects of life.

“I think it’s a funny trade-off and the trade-off is this – no human being likes experiencing negative emotional states. If I feel bored I can immediately open up my phone and be entertained, if I feel lonely I can go onto Facebook and say hi to like 40 people, if I am single and want to go on a date I can immediately go on to Tinder. I think by constantly jumping into that stuff we take away from some of the depth that comes from going through that feeling”.

Respite

Jomo is about independence, unshackling yourself from the burden of social engagements and seeking respite and for many, that requires ditching all things digital.

Google has announced its “digital wellbeing” initiative with the promise that “great technology should improve life, not distract from it”. The company’s CEO Sundar Pichai announced the addition at their annual developer conference with the words “Joy of Missing Out” projected behind him.

The companies latest Android phone will have a dashboard which offers an overview of phone usage indicating how frequently you use apps, how many notifications you get, and how much time you spend on your device. You can even schedule breaks to remind yourself to reflect before watching that funny cat video for the hundredth time.

Apple is also backing the “digital health” trend. The ios12 will have a “screen time” feature which will track how much time you’re spending on your device.

Some Irish businesses are requesting people to return to a pre-1973 world before mobile phones roamed the earth.

Both restaurants in Kelly’s hotel in Rosslare, Co Wexford, are mobile-free zones. Managing director Billy Kelly says “sometimes when people are talking on the phone they think the person has to hear them in Australia”.

He feels this can “dominate the room” and disrupt fellow diners. He maintains “an area to dine is to relax and enjoy the experience”.

The Monart destination spa in Wexford offers guests the opportunity to take part in a digital detox, General manager Mark Browne says this is “an opportunity to take a break from the constant everyday commitment to mobile phone and digital device use”.

“Much research has been carried out on the stress associated with digital devices, so we are fully onboard with taking time out and relieving this stress,” Browne says.

A softer approach is adopted by the Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa which asks guests to keep their phones on silent while they dine. Hotel general manager Niall Coffey says although not compulsory “when phones are put away this allows families and friends to truly engage with each other and immerse themselves in their dining experience”.

So if you feel like cutting back on your screen time, think beyond how much time you spend on your device and ruminate on why.

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