For years we've been talking about FOMO: the fear of missing out. In the age of incessant and inescapable interconnectivity, we take note of every sip our acquaintances have at cool new bars, and every exotic trip an ex takes with their new Sig O. Studies say we check our smartphones up to 150 times a day. And if science is any indication, keeping up with the Joneses, or at least knowing what each and every Jones is doing where and when, gives us a laundry list of mental ailments — less sleep, anxiety, depression, decreased self-esteem, general bad moods. Maybe this constant keeping up with the world in its digital form isn't full-time worth it.
Implementing strategies for keeping our mental health in check is surprisingly difficult. How are we supposed to ignore an email from a boss? What about a text from a friend or significant other in the middle of a long dinner, lecture or run?
Here are a few hacks — and even some apps — to save us from ourselves, decrease our FOMO and turn it all into JOMO (the joy of missing out).
The irony of using technology to free us from technology is not lost on us. But if that's what it takes, so be it.
A new app Cloak utilizes the geolocation data from Foursquare and Instagram to help you find where your friends have been so you can avoid them.
2. Unplug & Reconnect
Created by an organization that aims to find the balance between technology and interpersonal connection, the app Unplug & Reconnect allows users to schedule a time when the phone disconnects from surrounding networks. It also, very handily, sends messages to those who try to reach you that you're unavailable. Once the pre-set time frame is over, your phone returns to its normal settings.
With Pause, you can allot a specific time frame for an activity that the app deems "real." The idea is to step away from all things digital and enjoy activities IRL. During the activity's set time, the app sets the phone to airplane mode. It also encourages competition by ranking friends with the app according to who can spend the most time offline.
Silencify blocks any incoming notifications during the time parameters you set. This is particularly helpful if you're awaiting an important call all day and really only want to get that call and nothing else.
BRB harks back to the days of AIM away messages and lets you ignore your friends without leaving them hanging. It allows you to set a timer and a specific text with an auto-reply to incoming messages.
Anti-social is a web app that lets you block any sites you deem counterproductive. At its simplest, it's a browser plug-in. When put to use, it lets you turn off any social sites — or any site you add to the block list — for as little as 15 minutes or as long as eight hours.
Split, a beefed up version of Cloak, also lets you geolocate friends you designate on a list to ensure you avoid bumping into them. Unlike Clock, which just uses location data from Foursquare and Instagram, Split taps into data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.
Self-Control, a longtime favorite among college students studying for exams, is a free Mac application that blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a set period of time.
9. Sabbath Manifesto
Sabbath Manifesto evangelizes that the seventh day of rest in religions worldwide should apply to the digital world as well. The Jewish artists who helped organize March 2014's National Day of Unplugging espouse 10 principles on their website including avoid technology, eat bread and light candles. No apps necessary.
10. Mindfulness Meditation
The best type of meditation is the one you do most often and with the most attention. The Mindfulness Meditation app markets itself as the easiest way to stop making excuses about forgetting to meditate. There are six different lengths of guides to aid meditation, checklists and alerts you can set for reminders.
11. UNICEF Tap Project
Nothing like an incentive to get you to put your phone down. The UNICEF Tap Project is encouraging smartphone users by making donations to pay for clean water for children for every 10 minutes of foregone online activity. Ironically, all you have to do is download an app.
12. Airplane Mode
For every ounce of technology we can utilize to remove ourselves from technology, we can also try non-app solutions.
Airplane Mode is completely underutilized for unplugging purposes outside of actual airplanes.
13. Use e-readers, not tablets.
Though tablets have all of the cool bells and whistles that modern technology offers, aren't they just over-sized cell phones? If you want to read on an electronic device so you don't have to carry 10 magazines and 15 books, try an e-reader, like an eKindle or a Nook that doesn't have anything cool on it except for words.
14. Delete easy-access apps.
Deleting Facebook and Twitter apps reduces the likelihood that you'll browse them all the time. Fact.
15. Turn off devices.
Our devices have off buttons. Cold turkey?