This is a space to discuss the essay FOMO.
I think the crux in FOMO is the F – fear. Being driven by fear can lead us into all sorts situations and internal dispositions, whether heavily-boundaried and walled off or recklessly open and vulnerable to exploitation and destruction. Both extremes (as characterized by the two sons) involve isolation, relational alienation. So how are we handling our fear?
That’s so insightful. I was mainly thinking of the ‘missing out’ part - the desire for something good that becomes corrupted. But if we can get in touch with our fundamental desires, we see that they are best satisfied by God.
At the same time, what does it look like to replace fear with love? If we are experiencing and giving love - to and from God and our neighbor, we will flourish.
You know, I was just reflecting yesterday on fundamental human desires/motivations – to not just survive, but to thrive. It was partly because I read your essay, but it was also tied to other reading I’ve been doing on original sin, desire and temptation.
As you mentioned above, true human flourishing can only happen in a loving relationship with True Life itself, which results in fear losing much of its driving power. It’s not that we don’t feel fear or threat ever again, but it’s that we don’t have to be controlled by it.
When I saw my friends thriving in the love of God, I knew I was missing out. So that desire to not miss out drove me to enter into it for myself. In doing so, I realized there was a fear that had kept me away from that space – fear of unworthiness or, more potently, fear that God would call me into a life of misery.
I wonder how may Christians go through life resigned to misery in God’s service. I’m not talking difficulty or pain or suffering – those things are definitely a part of life and, therefore, the Christian life. But misery is a different story. It is a non-flourishing of the older brother variety. His misery is betrayed by his statement, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” (Lk 15:29) The NIV translates it as “slaving for you”. No wonder there’s a drive to find thriving elsewhere…when all the while, it’s there in front of them. The relationship is simultaneously accessible and inaccessible.
In my experience, FOMO seems to be the result of a lack of trust in God, or none there of. Fearing that God is not enough, fearing the future and that God won’t provide or fearing that things will just pass you by. Things like envy and comparison are present, along with what ifs?
The fear driven way of living has been especially encouraged by social media and out constant connection with others. Rather than living in the present, people are future driven, living in anxiety.
Setting physical and mental boundaries with people and social media, plus taking time out of one’a day to slow down and spend time with God will help in setting better focus on what is important.
I wonder if FOMO is a symptom of discontent. In Luke 15 one son is not content with his provincial life so he leaves in search of something better and the other is not content as a son so he slaves away, as @kiko highlighted, maybe seeking favor from dad not realizing that he has access to the joy of being a son.
In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul wrote about how he had learned to be content in all circumstances. Then in 1 Timothy 6:6 he highlights the value of contentment,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
When reading Psalm 1 just now I can almost see the righteous sitting on a grassy river bank communing with God in great mirth and revelry. While the wicked and mockers walk the street and their laughter is darker and empty. Outwardly they make great boasts but they are like chaff blown in the wind, never content in the pleasures they seek and always needing a new high.
But then @Carson, As a Junior in high school a trip to Europe would be a great opportunity and selling what you could to make it happen isn’t inherently wrong. The FOMO that drove you to do it could be just one emotion at play, but I’d say that the Lord can use those emotions to guide us. The question is are we driven by just the fear or do we check it against what the Lord has done? Are we content with Him or do we need more? Because it is the intentions of the heart that the Sword of the Spirit judges not necessarily the emotions we experience.
The righteous in Psalm 1 are content with The Lord and delight in his word. While the wicked are content with nothing and their pleasures are fleeting.
Is God holding out on me? Or does God have the best plan for me? It is a question of faith and trust.
And Psalm 1 illustrates this drama so vividly. We can see the wicked having a great time - and if we are suffering, we can hear them mocking us. The natural question is, why don’t I stop trusting God and start imitating their example? It’s working for them, and my faith isn’t working for me.
I also agree that social media accelerates this. Now I can see the most successful people in the world, anytime, anywhere, and often there is no reference to God. Their example is desirable, so I want to imitate it.
So good. Thank you @kiko.
I think this is a helpful dimension of the conversation. Thank you @chris!
Are we content with faithfulness? Or do we want faithfulness + good circumstances?
Chris, good point about my story of going to Europe. I agree with you. I think it was ethical to go all out to make the trip a possibility. A wise Christian mentor is actually the one who encouraged me to that course of action. The only twist in the story, that I’ll share because you raised the point, is that when my parents realized that if I sold my car, they’d have to return to driving my two siblings and me to and from school, they stepped in and covered the cost of the trip. That was very generous of them!! Though I feel for my siblings because my car wasn’t the nicest ride. Lots of stories there for another day…
I also appreciate the distinction between our motivations/intentions and our emotions. Our emotions can be part of our honest human experience and faithfulness to God. Our motivations, however, are to be pure in love for God and others. That helps me see myself more clearly. Thank you.
That is a good way to ask it @Carson. We love to sing how God is enough or more than enough, but then we can go out and live as though he’s not, and I’m including myself in that We. Psalm 1 is a great reflection on that contrast.
Then they share their “inspirational” messages that draw us away from contentment with God and calling us to lean more on our own striving and effort.
Maybe they had their own FOMO moment and calculated that the cost of the trip was less than the cost missing out on not shuttling their kids around.
Ahh the memories of our first cars.