FO·MO -- /ˈfōmō/ -- noun informal -- anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) has gained a lot of attention recently. We’ve all experienced it at some point. It arises when you hear the epic stories from the party you weren’t invited to or in a conversation where a group tosses out private jokes. The world of advertising practically runs on FOMO.
Our global social network has amplified this particular social fear.
Despite how distressing FOMO can seem, there are many ideas for ways to conquer it. Some of them might resonate with you more than others, but I urge you to try a few of them out.
1. Recognize the illusion of social media
It’s really easy to see the successes of others and get down on yourself for your own perceived lack. But social media is often a snapshot of someone’s life at its best, and it might be a Photoshopped one at that! People pick and choose what they want to share. Often people post about the highs of life—parties, weddings, births, significant accomplishments. There are lows in there as well, but it seems to be human nature to gloss over those and focus instead on how our own lives compare to the successes of others. God points out that such comparison isn’t a good idea (2 Corinthians 10:12) because it sets our sights lower than what He wants us to become (Romans 12:2).
2. Practice gratitude
Fear operates from a standpoint of scarcity while gratitude is all about abundance. It’s clear which God would rather us have (John 10:10). Writing a list of things that you are grateful for, small and large, helps shift your focus onto the amazing miracles taking place in your life and your surroundings every day. Ironically, FOMO in itself makes you miss out on so much!
3. Set personal priorities
Sit down and make a list of what you find most valuable in life or write out your personal goals or the things that make you feel alive. It’s a worthwhile exercise for many reasons, but it can help you with FOMO as well. Once you create that list, you can see how life is full of so many amazing people and activities that bring you deeper satisfaction.
It helps to put things in a framework of things that motivate you spiritually (like prayer and Bible study), physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. You may find that checking your social media accounts makes that list (and there’s nothing wrong about that). It may be the best way you stay in touch with a good friend who lives far away, or it’s how you see photos of friends’ trips that inspire you to save for your own travels. But what will be abundantly clear will be how full your life already is despite any fear that you are missing something. If you dive deep into pursuing the things on your list, you will find you care less and less about what you are “missing out on” because you are already living a life you find most fulfilling.
4. Build a face-to-face social network
It’s less likely that we will be driven online for our social needs if they are fully met by in-person interactions with friends and family. Messaging someone can be fun, but it definitely doesn’t beat connecting with someone through in-depth conversations or shared activities. Think about some of the best memories you’ve made in your life. Chances are they didn’t involve sitting in front of your computer or mobile device. Plus, laughter and conversation can provide quick escapes from anxiety (Proverbs 12:25, Proverbs 27:17). It’s pretty hard to have negative thoughts at the same time you’re in the middle of a great, belly-busting laugh.
5. Try a tech sabbath
I know that phrase sounds a bit strange, but stay with me here. I use the word sabbath in a different sense than the holy Sabbath God wants us to honor each week (Exodus 20:8-10). In this case I'm just talking about taking a general period of rest, specifically from technology. If you’re finding yourself caught in a web of obsessively checking your smartphone or tablet or computer for the latest updates on your social media feed of choice, try taking a break. Turn off the device. Focus on the rest of the items on your list of personal priorities or the people in your face-to-face network. Take 24 hours each week to disconnect from the online world and instead delve more deeply, with fewer distractions, into other pursuits and see how that choice makes you feel.
6. Go to God
This is the most essential one in the list. Our Creator wants a deep relationship with all of us. He cares about you and wants you to talk with Him about your worries and concerns and needs. Prayer and Bible study is our means of conversation with Him and He has a lot to say about how to overcome fears. He provides the means the conquer fear of any kind (1 John 4:16-18). The more we get to know Him, we come to understand the amazing future He has prepared for His family. He doesn’t want a single one of us to miss out on what is truly and eternally worthwhile—the coming Kingdom of God.
Fear is useful in that in some situations it helps us pinpoint what aspects of our lives need attention. Any time we struggle with something, it’s an opportunity for growth. So check out your own life. Can you recognize any FOMO? If so, try one of these ideas to overcome that fear and live more abundantly.