There’s a lot of talk about “FOMO.” Most people who are social media savvy are familiar with this term. For those of you who are not, “FOMO” means “Fear Of Missing Out.” Missing out on what? I’m glad you asked. Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines FOMO as fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing. In other words FOMO is fear of missing out on essentially EVERYTHING. I find this concept fascinating. It’s one of the engines that drives social media. We have to be up-to-the-minute-and-in-the-know about it ALL, because we don’t want to miss A THING. What someone ate. What someone wore. Where they are headed. Where they have been. We receive notifications all day and into the night and we wake up in the morning and immediately check for more notifications, because WHO KNOWS what we missed overnight?
We have to let everyone know what we’re up to. We cannot be perceived as disconnected from all the goings on. After all, people need—want—DESERVE to know the play by play details of our lives. They need to know that we had the best donut ever today, and that we can’t wait for five o’clock because work puts a real crimp in our lifestyles. They need to see the pic of us modeling the trend of the moment, at the hot spot of the moment, with all the people who matter. They need to see that if they don’t follow us, they too are missing out!
Many of us cannot fathom a life without social media, and many of us can’t remember what life was like before it.
Disclaimer here: This post is not intended to be a knock against social media. That would make me a hypocrite. After all, that’s how I deliver this blog to many of you. Social media have made an indelible mark on society, and it has transformed life as we know it. It allows us to connect, to reconnect, and to stay connected.
To repeat said disclaimer, I am not anti-social media.
BUT…. (You knew that word was coming, right?)
I AM pro-moderation.
I AM pro-quiet time.
I AM pro-unplugging.
I AM pro-priorities.
Priorities. That’s it. FOMO has clouded our focus to the point where we’ve lost sight of what matters MOST. Here’s a hint: it’s not how many likes, retweets, or reposts that you get. It’s not the number of followers that you have. It’s not following all the “right” people. Make no mistake, those things have their place. They are part of the social media machine, and provide valuable information regarding who is reading, responding to, and affected by what we are saying. Followers, likes, retweets, and reposts matter.
But they are not what matters most.
Please take a moment to go back and reread that very last sentence. Slowly, deliberately, and with care. What word, if any, jumps out at you? You got it, friend: MOST. “What matters most.” That’s a broad term, and subject to interpretation depending on – you guessed it – your priorities!
Take a moment to think about the top three to five priorities in your life right now. Do they add to you? Do they improve you? Do they uplift you? Do they enable you to carry out your God-given purpose? Do they give you joy? Notice, I did not say happiness. Why? Happiness is temporal and most often based on external factors. Happiness ebbs and flows, even in the most ideal of situations. Joy is something altogether different. Real joy carries you no matter what’s going on around you. Joy is tethered to your soul.
I digress. Back to priorities. And FOMO. If your priorities are driven by FOMO, we need to talk. You see, with FOMO comes a lot of noise. Visual noise, audible noise, spiritual noise. About spiritual noise. When your spirit is inundated with noise, there’s an even bigger phenomenon with which you should be concerned. I call it FOMG: Fear Of Missing God. The Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:8 (KJV): Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
A wise woman once told me that as long as you’re chasing God, you can never miss Him (Thanks Miss Bev). That resonated with me profoundly, and became a guidepost for me where my priorities are concerned. You see, I had a bout with FOMO. It claimed my time, drained my energy, and clouded my priorities. I would check my social media accounts before I went to sleep, and reach for my phone when I woke up in the morning. I would look at all the beautifully filtered pictures of perfect families, perfect vacations, perfect jobs and perfectly cooked meals, and think “I sure do have a lot of catching up to do. I’m missing out on life.”
And there it was. Just like that, my measuring stick shifted from how God would have me live, to how my life stacked up to the lives of all those other beautifully filtered folks. I realized that I had to reassess my priorities, STAT, or there would be trouble. The first thing I had to do was unplug. Side note: If, in this moment, you’re telling yourself that unplugging is impossible for you to do, ask yourself why it’s impossible. Anyway, I went for a significant amount of time without looking at social media. Period. Not even my blog. Not because I’m self-righteous, or super spiritual, but because this blog is my God-given assignment, and I dare not let the words that I produce be driven by anything other than what I believe God would have me share. Once I realized that somewhere along the line I had allowed my measuring stick for progress to change, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I stopped chasing God, and started chasing ghosts.
Fear of Missing God is way more important to me than Fear of Missing Out.
For you this may be a non-issue. You may be completely unaffected by the FOMO phenomenon. That’s great for you. Keep it up. If you’re reading this, however, and find that your self-worth is in any way connected to your likes, number of followers, retweets, or posts, I’m talking to you. And I’m asking you to consider unplugging, getting quiet, and communing with God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, UNFILTERED, IMPERFECT, and COMPLETELY loved by God. I pray that you come to the place where that matters more to you than anything anyone else thinks of you!
You can do it! I know you can. Unplug, give yourself a spiritual reboot, and reconnect with the one who LOVES YOU BEST AND MATTERS MOST!
YOU GOT THIS!
Psalm 139:14 (KJV) – I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Worship Break: Fred Hammond: Give Me A Clean Heart