I don’t get to see you at ACTFL this year. For the first time since my first ACTFL in San Antonio (has it been that long?!), I won’t be there. And that is okay. Not only is it okay, it’s the right thing for me.
For one thing, a few years ago I made a commitment to myself and my family not to travel for professional reasons more than once a month. For another thing, more often than not, if I’m traveling to a conference I’m paying most -if not all- of my expenses myself. San Antonio brought me close to my mom for Thanksgiving, San Diego brought me some rare corporate support, Boston brought me to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and Nashville is pretty much just down the road. Not so New Orleans. When decision time came, I had no mitigating circumstances to help with that trip, and I had an opportunity to learn with the Tennessee association in November instead, so no ACTFL for me this year.
So am I languishing under the FOMO? Absolutely not.
Let me say how much I hate the acronym FOMO. Why live life with Fear Of Missing Out? There’s always something we’re “missing out” on. Someone else travels more. Someone else has more school support. Someone else has more tech options and subscriptions. FOMO is just another way technology, hyperconnectedness and social media have teamed up to sell us the lie that we’d be happier, more fulfilled, more successful, more talented, if only we were living some other life. Some life besides the blessed, beautiful reality of the life we already have.
I recently heard someone say, “Well, you don’t want to have FOMO!” I was completely dumbfounded. I thought,
Oh my holy stars in heaven. Now we have to talk about FOHFOMO? FEAR OF HAVING FOMO?!?!
At the risk of being overly negative, I truly despise some of the catty, bratty, never-good-enough aspects of our society that the lightning-fast tech revolution has brought us. (Must read: “Twitter: The High School We Can’t Log Off From” over at the NY Times Opinion page.) Sometimes I’m tempted to think there’s been no time in history that’s been worse than now, and then my husband tells me to read Amazing Grace and get introduced to Wilberforce’s England. (Where does the name of the bulldog come from? Which brothels specialized in 13 and under?) Every generation has its evils to purge, I suppose. Let’s let FOMO be one of ours.
I have every intention of being at ACTFL next year, perhaps even doing a pre-conference workshop, but doing that means I’ll give up something else. Usually I simply can’t do more than 2 conferences per fall, because Friday is my only teaching day and conferences are almost always on Fridays. Whatever happens, I’m kicking FOMO out, and I invite you to do the same.
This post is the first in a three-part series on conference season. The other two will hopefully be more positive, as well as being informed by the world language teaching community. Stay tuned for crowdsourced tips on rethinking the conference format and on having a successful unconference.
Even if you won’t be at a single conference this fall, you’ll have access to all the conference sharing through Twitter hashtags, Facebook feeds, blog posts, and more. In the midst of it all, be thankful you’re getting all that learning without paying astronomical hospitality taxes! I’m headed to the Kentucky World Language Association conference in just a few days, and I’m excited to be blogging and tweeting the learning from that, including my workshop with Jacque Van Houten on the new Can Do statements and my session on breaking free from the verb chart. Happy FOMO-free conference season, everyone!
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