Fear Of Missing Out, more commonly referred to as ‘FOMO” is a modern day epidemic among the Millennial generation. But what’s the real deal with this new addition to the long list of acronyms we’ve become so familiar with? Have you ever felt that pang in your gut when you scroll through a series of fb photos of all your friends having an awesome time at a party… that you weren’t invited to? That right there, that’s FOMO rearing its ugly, accusatory head. “You weren’t invited for a reason. You’re missing out on something incredible.” Dictionary.com provides a little more clarity, sharing that FOMO is “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a great tool. It can help you stay in touch with friends, bring awareness to the things you care about and show off those sick new kicks (dang, Daniel!). But, on the flip side, there isn’t much that can make a person more insecure and self doubting than the barrage of images we see online daily. Before social media, people weren’t constantly exposed to the ‘awesome, fun-filled’ lives of everybody they knew (ha!).
The sad truth is that these sometimes candid, often completely contrived, snapshots only capture a moment in time. They simply do not represent the full reality of the situation. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve posted a pic of myself having a seemingly fantastic evening with a group of smiling people. What isn’t shown in my pic, however, is how lonely I felt later that night, the argument I had with my friend and the fact that I didn’t even enjoy the food I was eating. But boy did it look like I was having the time of my life!
So, if it’s all a matter of perspective, where does this intense fear of missing out really stem from? Fear of missing out is more accurately a fear of being left out (FOBLO didn’t sound as catchy). Why are we so determined not to be left out? For me, FOMO hit me where it hurt because it played on my already present insecurities. In my mind, if wasn’t invited to an event, it meant I wasn’t worthy of being invited. Was I not cool enough? Friendly enough? Cute enough? Did they not like me? Had I offended them?
I was so caught up in these negative thoughts, that I didn’t realize I was being irrational and driven by my own insecurities. I couldn’t see that the truth was, my fear was rooted in a sense of rejection, in a false belief that I wasn’t truly accepted. The thing is, if we look to our peers (or anyone else) for acceptance, we will never find it. God is the only one who can speak directly to our identity, value and worth. And the Bible tells us that we are completely accepted by God. “Therefore, accept each other in the same way that Christ accepted you. He did this to bring glory to God.” (Romans 15:7). As hard as it may be to live and think counter-culturally, we must remember that regardless of what social media seems to tell us, God always has the final say.
So, the next time you find yourself being deceived by the FOMO falsehood, pause, take a breath and put things into perspective. You are unconditionally and irrevocably loved, affirmed and accepted through the wonderful work of Jesus on the cross. And no fb photo can ever tell you otherwise.