Last week, I sent my sister a cute video of my 3-year-old daughter dancing. A few minutes later, I received the following text back:
“Cute! Better send it to Mom. She’s having FOMO over here.”
FOMO — or the fear of missing out — has been “a thing” for half a decade or more. In fact, in 2013, the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, where it is described as, “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
According to an article originating from Texas A&M, FOMO has reached critical mass among Millennials:
FOMO is especially rampant in the millennial community because they see a peer achieving something they want, and somehow in their mind, that achievement means something is being ‘taken away’ from them,” said Darlene McLaughlin, M.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychiatry and behavioral health specialist with Texas A&M Physicians.
It’s easy to define our lives based on the virtual crowd watching, critiquing, and applauding our every move. It’s even easier to conform to the crowd’s mold — constantly measuring our lives against a celebrity’s Instagram post or a friend’s life event.
In a way, this is a new version of peer pressure. But it’s particularly insidious because it is self-imposed. I see something someone else has achieved or received and feel like my life is somehow incomplete without that thing or experience. It may even motivate me to do something simply because others are doing it, and I don’t want to “miss out.”
Because FOMO is influenced by external factors, experts suggest that to overcome it, an individual choose to look inward instead of gauging their lives by the actions and accomplishments of others. That’s fine. But as Christians, we have a different calling — to look to Christ. And His plan for each person is different.
I was reminded of this, this past Sunday as I sang the words to “Nothing I Hold On To,” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit:
I give it all to you, God, trusting that you’ll make something beautiful out of me.
When we’re allowing God to direct our steps by being in His Word and engaging with Him in prayer, we don’t have to be afraid that we are missing out on something. That doesn’t mean we’ll get everything we want in life. But it does mean that there’s a better way to live than being controlled by FOMO.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” I think a lot of us are walking around with rotting bones when Jesus offers us a tranquil heart. In the end, the only thing we should be afraid of missing out on is a true, life-giving relationship with Him.