If I had my way, 'to battle FOMO', would be a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Drummed in by our school teachers that the verb is a 'doing word', FOMO is not a one-off wishing we could be elsewhere, but something a large number of us seem to consistently do battle with.
FOMO—or "fear of missing out"—was actually coined by two inseparable young girls (in the US) who, as they grew older and had families of their own, weren't able to be part of each other's every social activity. The fountain of all knowledge Wikipedia now lists FOMO as a 'social disorder' where 'sufferers have an obsessive need to be part of social situations they are unable to attend.'
What does FOMO actually mean in reality to the regular young Christian? In my case it means "a yes" to everything because of a fear of an already busy person missing out on something that might just be the best party/church home group/surf/ski of the century—and what I already have planned in my weekly jam-packed diary still isn't enough.
A modern affliction it might be, so we haven't seen our parents go through the FOMO in quite the same way. For years I have laughed about myself-diagnosed FOMO, often using it for the good, to have incredible experiences and keep my social networks thriving, but I as I've grown in God, I feel slightly weird bringing all my FOMO to the foot of the cross.
I write this as I currently battle FOMO. A time of summer, with a beautiful harbour for kayaking, awesome surf on the coast, kids splashing around in an azure garden swimming pool covered by a canopy of red pohutukawa trees. Instead, I don't want much food, I sleep 12 hours shifts and I definitely don't have the energy to get in the pool.
OK, anyone who manages to get sick in another country over their Christmas holiday will take time to recover and it's not always about FOMO. But really, inside, God knows I'm bursting to get out and do everything the very moment I feel better again. And back to the same degree. Will things really change?
Challenging life's Insta's …....
Hazy summer days on instagram, rolling parties on facebook, witty comments on twitter – not to mention the endless text messages that come through with invitations – the social media hype of FOMO can come down to a 'look what everyone else is doing' and 'what I could be doing'. It's the premise of the grass is always greener for the 21st Century.
And so what does my own urban dictionary 'to battle FOMO' look like? For our Generation Y and Z Christians coming through, will they even recognise FOMO as a social disorder which eats away at their contentment and their trust in God giving them what they need in the moment?
Or will it just be a common modern affliction which transcends both Christians and the rest of western society? Or do the roots of FOMO go deeper to a people pleasing mentality, of seeking approval by portraying one crazy and outrageously lived life on social media and a constant barrage of communication?
I'd like to feel like, I actually water the grass I'm living on, and stop looking at how great my grass would look if I could do this and this and this, on top of what I'm already doing.
God has been showing me that living in FOMO is not what he called me to do. He designed me to live in freedom. And so the battle lies ahead. It might be awkward to throw my FOMO's at the foot of the cross, but it looks as if that will be what I have to do from time to time. Otherwise the stuff that I do will get the better of me and I will have no time for HIM again.
Amanda Robinson is originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda worked in Publishing in London and Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She's currently spending a six month sabbatical in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes in California, skiing, adventuring and writing.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html