Most us have at some time wondered: What if I’m left behind? What if I’m forgotten? What if I blew my only chance at success? Why is everyone else having such a great life?
They call it FOMO – fear of missing out.
FOMO displays itself in a number of ways.
It can mean we have difficulty committing to something because we are afraid that that something better might come along, and then we would miss out. This could be committing to a relationship, purchasing a house or car; it could be accepting a job offer. What if something or someone better comes along after you commit – FOMO.
FOMO is also revealed in our incessant need to stay connected to what is happening in the social media world, or with our friends, or whatever community in which we are connected. FOMO is one of the reasons why we have such a hard time with being disconnected when the NBN isn’t working or the phone signal is lost. Ironically this type of FOMO makes us miss out on what is presently happening around us.
FOMO causes us to rush to buy concert tickets. It causes us to go to a party even though we are exhausted. We fear that we will miss out on something great. If I pursue one option, I might close myself off to another and be bound by the consequences of my decisions forever.
We experience FOMO early. “But Mum, everyone else is going!” My 14-year-old self wails after being told I can’t go to an unsupervised party. My mother’s standard response in these instances was usually, “If everyone else put their hand in the fire, would you do it?” The question was meant to warn us about blindly following the crowd, yet I remember thinking to myself, “How far in and for how long?” It may just be better than being excluded from the group.
But FOMO isn’t just a young person’s anxiety. Sometimes FOMO hides itself behind it’s more respectable cousins “Live life to the full”, “Both/And” and “Why can’t I have it all?”
FOMO stems from a person’s deep need to belong to a group, and each Facebook post or tweet both promises to connect us and is a reminder of what separates us from them. FOMO also exposes our fundamental human condition – we are finite. We can only be in one place at a time, our time is limited and we cannot predict the future. Now in my 60s, I can look back and see that many of the things I chased with such vigour, were not worth pursuing. I know now that I can’t have it all and that there is more risk in “not choosing” than in making the “wrong choice”. Hardly anyone talks about what we miss out on when we don’t put down deep roots, what we miss out on by not being fully present and committed to a partner, a place, a community or line of work.
We can never fully weigh all the options and their possible implications; that perspective is God’s. The truth is that whatever happens on our life God is with us weaving all the little threads of our lives into a grand tapestry. The important choices in life are the choices that will guide our choices. What values will guide my choices? What faith will catch me when I fall? How will I choose to deal with disappointment and grief?
As an unabashed follower of Jesus, I am continually drawn to the simplicity of his teaching and the radical demands it makes on me to live well and love others.
‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matt 7:12)
This is the gospel, and it’s good news
Brian Spencer, Minister