Thursday, 14 April 2016

Sup, "Quiet" and FOMO

I had a flyer for a new app thrust in my hands as I left the tube station near work the other day - sup.

The app (according to its website description) is designed to let you know when your friends are within a perimeter of 5 to 25 minutes' walk away, so that you can "make chance encounters and serendipitous moments with friends happen more often without the creep factor".

The back of the flyer says - "Sam is nearby [waving hand emoticon]" Don't be boring. Say hi!


I'm not saying there's no market for this - obviously there is, otherwise these talented app developers would have put their efforts into something else. But part of me, a big part of me, feels absolutely exhausted at the very idea. The story behind the sup app webpage states that: "we are extremely social beings and feed off the energy of others"

That's exactly what sends me into meltdown. I don't want anyone leeching my energy against my will. I love the idea that we all have something to give to each other, that we contribute a particular blend of attributes that can't be found anywhere else; I'd love to think that my company can be uplifting.

But I also need my space. Am I the only one?

Thankfully, I'm well past the age when I'm afraid of being boring. And although I'd really rather not offend my friends, I also know that the ones who stick are the people who can take it if I turn down an invitation or two (or three) - it's not personal, it's essential. It's essential to me maintaining my joy, my perspective, my sense of self. It essential to me being the kind of person you might actually like to be around.

But I feel for the ones who are still figuring that out about themselves - the people who do suffer from the very real fear of missing out; the ones who haven't learnt how to care for themselves more than they care about how they come across to other people. The ones who can't say "no, leave me alone for a minute - let me catch my breath".

And then I remember Susan Cain. I'm reading her book in my lunch breaks at the moment (behind the curve, I know and don't care): "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". It is startling and comforting. The book and associated online community give me a little hope that we can learn to co-exist; there really is more than one way to be in the world. 

You can be someone who leaps on this sup app and makes meaningful connections take shape as a consequence. And I can be someone who says, "no thanks - not now; maybe later, I'm thinking something through... I'll share it with you when I'm done. Or not. Depends." And we're both fine. We're all great.

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