Most of us have been there. Coming off the weekend that was…ok…and fairly restful…but not especially exciting, when a quick check of social media blasts a friends post “That was the best weekend in my life! Oh I wish it had never come to an end…” We do our best to “like” it and maybe even post a comment that we’re happy for them but inside is that familiar sinking feeling that we’ve missed out on something cool…again. It doesn’t really matter what it is, and its possible we wouldn’t even have enjoyed it if we were there, but just the idea that we missed out on something incredible is frustrating. You’ve probably heard the term coined by psychologists to describe such a thing, FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. In fact FOMO has become such a thing that research has been conducted to study why it seems to be such an increasingly prevalent thing. Psychologists have discovered that social media has been a big factor in this increase mostly it seems because people post usually only their highlights and we ignore those who post lowlights since that’s depressing. Psychologists and those who study this phenomena believe that while everyone has a certain of amount of FOMO, those who perceive themselves as having low social standing seem to suffer from it the most. People fear missing out because they often think others care more for them when they a part of the “in” group.
The thing is, I believe FOMO has always been around it’s just that social media exaggerates the feeling because we are aware of what that many more people are doing. The “perceived low social standing” has been around since there has been more than one person with which to compare ourselves. That means most people have some insecurities because we tend to get our value from other people’s opinion of us and their evaluation of the social order and since people are fickle whatever value we get is uncertain and temporary. For most people this is problematic because how else can we get value? We can assign our own value if we like but ultimately assigning our own value seems hollow. This is a difficult issue for almost everyone since we intuitively want a value that has meaning to others, and yet that meaning is often shallow because we want a more transcendent meaning than just someone’s opinion.
Christians have that transcendent meaning if they seek it out. We seek God’s approval because we recognize only he alone can truly give meaning as he is the ultimate source of meaning. The problem is that for many Christians God’s approval doesn’t involve public recognition…at least not yet, and so we go the way of the world in seeking the world’s affirmation. I believe this involves a decision of the will by recognizing from where true value comes.I still have a “fear of missing out”, but what I fear I’m missing is much different.
3 Comments Add yours
For me, FOMO has tended to fall in the category of significance rather than social standing. I guess I want to be able to look back on my life and feel that I didn’t waste it. That, however, if I’m honest, is probably still tied to the idea of self-justification.
Nick, I agree but it’s possible that they are also tied together for many. In my observation so many people get their significance from social standing in some way they are inextricable.
Yeah, I can see that.