The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is believing that someone else is doing something better than you are, and therefore, you are missing out. It is a social angst, heightened by social media, which portrays a false image of life. While the mindset has been present in every generation, there is a growing trend of keeping options open and waiting for something better. Still, it isn’t helping any of us live better lives.
Think about theses scenes you see frequently (maybe you do these things yourself):
- A young couple on a date at a restaurant, who don’t engage on another much in conversation, rarely make eye contact, and stare at their phones for most of the dinner. They are afraid the options online are better than what is in front of them (bad habits are also at play).
- You ask someone if they want to watch a movie or go play pool on Friday night and they get flaky about an answer. They might say something akin to, “text me before you leave and I will let you know if I can go”.
- A relative who has been dating their significant other for 10 years and has no plans to get married, because they want to “keep their options open.”
- Second-guessing the decision you made to stay home and study/rest/etc, thinking that your friends are having a great time without you.
- 168,894 different drink combos at Sonic
- Dating sites that offer hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of different “options” to date or hook-up with others.
- How many different options are there on a phone now? Not to mention the kinds of phones one might choose.
We have even brought this attitude into faith issues – church shopping, being spiritual but not religious, and wanting to choose our own way over God’s way (the universal FOMO).The primary force behind FOMO’s rapid growth is the internet and social media. When you see Instagram pics of your friends at your favorite band’s concert in New York (when you live in TX), the newly married couples “we are in heaven” post on Twitter, or the Facebook update about the new dream job your high school friend just got, it can lead to you feeling like your life isn’t up to par with others. Studies have shown that using Facebook can cause low self-esteem!
The problems that come from this attitude are many and I believe the enemy is highly entertained by this culture of the better option.
If we don’t commit to something and stick to it, we don’t commit to anything.
If we don’t commit to anything, we live our lives without meaning.
Too often today, we stand paralyzed in making a choice, because there are too many options. We leave our options open, waiting for the better one, but we end up not committing to anything and then the moment passes us by and we seem unsatisfied – afraid we “missed out” on something better. Sometimes it is a consequence of being afraid to make the wrong choice, in the face of so many options being presented. So, the only decision made is to not make a decision, and therefore not have to live with the consequences of missing out or making the wrong choice. This is not a good way to live a good life!
Life is meant for us to make a choice, stick with it, and the result is living a better life because of it. Think of the vows of matrimony. They speak to choosing one spouse and only one spouse, until death do us part:
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
Notice there is no backdoor to find a better option down the line. Whatever may happen, this is the choice I make and I stick to it. If we don’t, we are treating others as an thing which we can use as we wish to make us happy = utilitarianism. This mentality is dangerous and unchristian!
Utilitarianism is the philosophy that the best way to live my life is to maximize my happiness and minimize my suffering and this is primarily done by using other people and things to attain my happiness. In other words, it makes people into objects. By constantly keeping your options open with others, by waiting for a better option, by having the fear of missing out – we treat others as objects, not people! Thus, life becomes about what others do for me, not about love!
Think about how God chooses to love us. He chooses you and sticks to His choice! It is how He wants us to live our lives too! Make a choice for God and stick to it! There are a multitude of gods out there we can worship – money, pleasure, power, fame, etc. One that too many are worshiping today is the god of better options. It promises you won’t miss out. But, it lies.
Choose God. Choose others. Stick to your choice. This is the way of the one true God who chooses you. Faithfulness is never without sacrifice, but it does not leave us unsatisfied.
Even psychology backs this up – Psychologist Barry Schwartz teaches this (WARNING – there are some parts of this video that are somewhat crass, but are used to make a good point):
Here are some tips for fighting the FOMO mentality. But, a simple question might really be the key – “is this (checking Facebook for the 65th time today / keeping your phone on 24/7 / worrying about comparing yourself to others / etc) really going to make my life better?” Choose based on the true answer, not your impulse.
Even the Bible talks about how to deal with FOMO:
“Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”-Joshua 24:15
Finally, below is a video from a college student talking about the consequences of FOMO. This is really well done: