There’s a creeping disease that’s infecting the hearts and minds of several generations of men and women. It’s symptoms: anxiety, loneliness, depression, inability to enjoy activities, decreased attention span, and a distorted view of reality.
The disease: FOMO.
In case you’ve never heard the term FOMO, it stands for “Fear Of Missing Out”. Wikipedia says
“Fear of missing out or FoMO is ‘a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent’. This social angst is characterized by ‘a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing’.”
It’s a real thing, and I see its symptoms daily. I think FOMO has always been around, but social media has been gasoline on that little fire that chronically burns, at least in low levels, in most people’s hearts.
How extensive has the disease of FOMO been creeping in to your soul? Do you find yourself:
- in the middle of an activity that should be perfectly enjoyable but you feel stress because you’re thinking about something better that other people are doing?
- checking your social media stream and feeling a great sense of loss because you see someone, or a group, doing something fun, and you weren’t invited or able to come?
- feel tension and anxiety in your heart when it comes to making a choice – whether it be what meal to choose from a menu or what activity to do for an evening – because you keep thinking about all of the things you CANNOT eat or do when you make your choice?
- find yourself cramming experience on top of experience as if you can fill the void and hole in your soul if you just live an epic enough life?
- check your phone every moment there’s some kind of pause in your life so you can be updated on the latest in everyone else’s life?
- jump on your social media streams while your in the middle of time with actual human beings, because your having a hard time staying interested or engaged in regular human interaction?
- worry that your kids won’t be top level athletes/musicians/academics who hold great jobs, lead Bible studies, get the perfect boy or girlfriend, while having great character all at the same time?
- tempted to switch churches because you heard or know that the music is better at another church, the speaker is more dynamic, or the kids just do more fun activities, even when the theology and spiritual health of your church is just fine?
Yes. Yes you do. And so have I, to most of these. It’s a sickness of the soul. So here’s the cure:
If you’re still with me and haven’t moved on to another blog/post/song, let me give you a couple of thoughts to encourage you off the ledge of FOMO:
- YOU’RE GOING TO MISS OUT! On most things. Get over it. You can’t be everywhere with everyone and do everything. But you can be one place. And actually be there. It’s actually quite nice and freeing.
- Boredom is not bad. (Side note, I don’t allow my kids to say they are bored. In our house that’s code word for “please give me some chores”. But actual boredom is not a bad thing.) As a matter of fact, boredom is what inspires creativity. You need down time. In fact, I remember a little a little something in the Bible commanding people to rest. God commanded his people to quit striving and laboring every seventh day, which happens to be fourteen percent of their week. With rest comes renewal. With rest, stress leaves. Also, neuroscientists have found that its when humans are “bored” that the greatest leaps of creativity come. So just chill out.
- You cannot do one thing and teach another. Your FOMO will be amplified in your kids You’re not helping them by enabling them to fill every waking moment with epic adventure or insane productivity. They need help modeling relaxing, letting good opportunities go by, not feeling unloved or insecure when other friends do things without them. You’ll have to live it for them to have a chance at getting it.
I’ll finish with some really helpful words from the writer of Hebrews:
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
In our Fear Of Missing Out, we’ve lost sight of the fact that Most Magnificent One is right there with us.
That should be enough.
It IS enough!
Don’t miss Him!