FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and I’m comfortable admitting that I felt this yesterday. Or, at least, a scaled-down version of it.
FOMO’s intended meaning describes the fear you experience when you think your peers are doing something more interesting than you, which forces you to check your social media constantly to see if you’re being left behind. Scale this to conference attendance: I go over the list of presentations each hour, a select the ones most appropriate for my professional development, and I go to those sessions. But wait! This is a social work conference, and everyone’s presentations have some meaning to me. I consider myself a generalist; I look at the batch of choices for each other and, well, I do a lot of second- and third-guessing, because it all seems to connect.
Let me use this brief recap to capture what I’m talking out: Yesterday, I learned about how to use GIS mapping to get a better idea of what field placements may work better based on students wants and needs. In another session, I learned how WordPress (the platform I use for this blog) can be woven into a course on macro practice, so that students can engage with an area of interest and actually connect with their community. An MSW student presented on incorporating the use of filmed media (movies) and applying character narratives to key theories in a course on Human Behavior in the Social Environment.
Here’s where the FOMO kicks in: social workers in distance education have a tendency to embrace technology, particularly social media. If you’ve been attending this conference, you’ve seen some participants tapping away on their mobile device. This is likely because they are hash-tagging out key points during presentations using #SWDE2017. It’s a wonderful way to get further insight into what’s going on (check out the Storify link and the end of this post. The downside? For me, it’s not that I want to hop rooms to go to the session I clearly should have attended. Instead, I’d like the opportunity to experience both presentations in full.
Here’s a sample of tweets I saw while I was in other, equally engaging sessions.
The bottom line is, no: I can’t attend it all. What I can do (and hey, this is a conference, and for this moment in time, we’re IRL) is seek, reach out, connect, network with these academics, practitioners, and thought leaders. Social media does bring people into that community that keeps people connected.