Research Fellow

What can you tell us that we didn’t know before? How will this help change things? So what? These blunt questions come to haunt the end of a research project. As we approach the end of the Loneliness Connects Us youth co-research we are planning a final legacy activity. Throughout the research we’ve explored loneliness as it connects to young people’s experiences of life, growing up and the everyday. With the youth co-researchers we listened to music, discussed films, used immersive theatre techniques and played in the city to explore the complex, granular and relational dimensions to youth loneliness.

When we come to communicate our findings we’re wondering how to speak back or engage with the variable tapestries that are young people’s lives as they experience and navigate loneliness. The youth co-researchers developed some great advice for young people about loneliness: it’s okay to feel lonely, all your emotions are important, and we should talk about loneliness. As important as these messages are we are beginning to question the collective and relational factors that shape experiences of loneliness and whether such advice to individuals doesn’t miss something important.

So we are working with the Greater Manchester Housing Association Youth Assembly develop a discussion around FOMO (fear of missing out) in the anxiety engendered by constant comparisons via social media to other more interesting lives and states. The group’s response has been to think about what it means to miss out, to be in one place and not another, especially when something better is always happening somewhere and visible online. These alternatives could be described as FAMO (fine about missing out) or JOMO (joy of missing out), more interested in finding your people or interests than comparing oneself to others.

The challenge we are thinking through is how to communicate and make ‘real’ the various potential practices, relationships and sensibilities of FAMO/JOMO.

Thoughts and ideas would be very welcome.

James Duggan

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