There is an increasing concern that many people today are suffering with FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). Social media is great for staying connected but one of the problems with it is that it often shows just the edited highlights of our lives. Think about any photos or video’s you have posted and they will almost certainly be about holidays, days out or happy and exciting events. This led a friend of mine to rename Facebook as bragbook.
The principle behind Fomo has always been a reality. We have all felt envious long before social media came along but social media magnifies the problem. For example, you’re at home on a Saturday night and your friend posts a photo of them at a party, you realize that everyone else in your class seems to be there except you and you feel sad. Rather than hearing about where your friend went on holiday, you see the pictures and video. You see the happiness on a beach, but not the stress in the airport or tiredness from jetlag after arriving home. You see the happiness but not the credit card bill that may be left.
If you are afraid of missing out it creates a pressure to stay constantly plugged in. We can be so immersed in the online world that we can lose touch with what is going on around us. We can be so focused on what is good about the parts of someone else’s life that we can see online that it makes us more miserable about our own. We can believe the lie that everyone’s life is better than ours and that belief will make us miserable.
Is the grass greener on the other side? FOMO encourages us to think so, but I actually believe that the grass is greener where you water it. Wherever we invest in our lives and enjoy what we have, that we are more likely to become content about what we have.
‘I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength‘. One of the first Christian leaders wrote this and I am challenged by his words (the quote is from Philippians 4 in the Bible if you want to read more).
Am I content or do I want more? To learn to be content with what I have brings peace but to feel driven to need more can lead to stress, disappointment and resentment. Am I afraid of missing out or am I learning to be content finding joy in what I have? I agree with Paul who wrote these words that the ultimate contentment is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus strengthens us and enables us to accomplish great things. What more do we need?