Twenty years ago, we didn’t even have a word for it. Now it’s everywhere. FOMO can be crippling if you don’t have a battle plan ready.
You’re missing out on something.
I don’t know what exactly, but it’s a moment, an opportunity, an event that will never, ever happen again in quite the same way.
You could be there—but you aren’t. Maybe you just don’t find out about it in time. Maybe you have other responsibilities, other commitments. Maybe you aren’t around the right people at the right time. Maybe your friends forget about you.
How does that make you feel?
The rise of FOMO
FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out,” is an odd duck. It’s a social anxiety that’s existed for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, but we haven’t given it a name until recently. With the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever before to experience FOMO.
Just scroll through your news feed of choice, and there it is—a digital catalog of all the fun and exciting things your friends are up to. Vacations, major purchases, home remodels, relationship milestones, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, backstage passes, conventions, parties and general adventures—it’s all there, uploaded in 4K and streamed in real time.
And then there’s you.
Reading this article.
In a 2013 study researchers defined FOMO as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, … characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing” (Andrew Przybylski, et al.).
That apprehension can manifest itself in a hundred different ways. It might send you on a never-ending scroll through social media. It might leave you wringing your hands over every “limited time” offer that lands in your inbox.
It might push you to say yes to every social invitation that comes your way. It might goad you into spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need to impress people you don’t know. It might distract you from the everyday-but-important responsibilities in your life—family, bills, work, sleep and even your relationship with God.
Left unchecked, FOMO will eat away at your peace of mind and consume your time until nothing remains of either one. Remember: “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8)—and you can be sure there are few things he’d like to devour more than your peace and your time.
So how do you fight FOMO? Here are three tips.
1. Remember your lens
As candid and natural as everything in your news feed might look, remember that very few things wind up online that aren’t painstakingly curated beforehand. Subconsciously or not, most of us choose to post our own personal highlight reel—moments when we’re looking our best, moments that show off our accomplishments, moments that make us happy, moments that validate us.
It’s what you do, and it’s what everyone else on your news feed is doing too. You’re not seeing their lives—you’re seeing the very best snippets of their lives. That’s how social media works. Most of us aren’t going to go out of our way to show our friends every dull, boring, disappointing, frustrating, underwhelming moment in our lives.
Remember that as you’re scrolling. Remember the lens you’re looking through as you catch glimpses of the lives of your friends and acquaintances. Your life will never be like that highlight reel, because their lives aren’t even like their highlight reel. Don’t be driven to compete with a reality that exists only in your news feed—it’s not possible, and it’s not healthy, either.
It’s not a new problem, though. Paul warned the Corinthians about rival religious leaders: “They, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).
2. Give JOMO a chance
Here’s the inescapable truth:
You’re going to miss out on something. Many things, honestly. There’s no way around it. With only 24 hours in the day and only one you, you are going to miss out on so many opportunities, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
And that’s where JOMO, or the “Joy of Missing Out,” comes in. If missing out is unavoidable, you can either embrace it or drive yourself crazy trying to fight it.And that’s where JOMO, or the “Joy of Missing Out,” comes in. If missing out is unavoidable, you can either embrace it or drive yourself crazy trying to fight it.
Opting for JOMO instead of FOMO means accepting that you can’t be everywhere at once. It’s turning your attention away from what everyone else is doing and focusing instead on what’s happening (or just as important, not happening) in front of you.
After Jesus Christ’s disciples returned from an eventful cross-country journey, “He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves” (Mark 6:31-32).
The world is busier than it was 2,000 years ago, which makes Christ’s advice even more important now. There is a physical and spiritual benefit to stepping away from all the coming and going and instead finding joy in missing out.
3. Decide what matters
You have to miss out on some things, but you don’t have to miss out on everything.
What’s the most important thing in the world to you? Of everything that you could possibly do with your life, what’s the one thing you’re not willing to miss out on?
Jesus told the disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. … But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:25, 33).
He also warned, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
We should be afraid of missing out on some things—and the Kingdom of God is an incredible, once-in-an-eternity opportunity. If we want to be part of it, it has to be priority No. 1.
Well, if it’s standing between you and the Kingdom, it’s worth missing out on.
Want to learn more about pursuing that Kingdom? Read our online article “Seek First the Kingdom of God.”