It’s sad when a slang term coined to describe an attitude toward commitment based on the fear of missing out on something better, specifically when something better is determined by what one can “get” out of a social situation or friend, becomes completely acceptable among adults.
It’s true. At least a little bit. I’m not angry, bitter, hurt, upset or frustrated. Just a little bit sad to think about how lightly I’ve observed this concept tossed around among well-meaning adults and even joked about on the news.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “FOMO,” pronounced like “faux-mo,” as in Larry, Mo and Curly, it’s the Fear Of Missing Out.
It’s the fear that stops one person from saying “yes” to another for a social invitation because there might be a better option that comes up in between the time of the original invitation and the date of the event. What if someone else calls with something that’s more fun, more interesting and provides more opportunity for something that I want? We’ve all said – or at least thought – such things. I know I have and doubt I am alone. So what do I do? I tell someone a casual “maybe,” and package it nicely enough to make it not sound mean or fail to respond to a Facebook or Evite until the very last possible minute, no matter how it hinders or alters those planning said event, just to make sure that it’s the best option out of all the possible options up until the very last minute.
I’m not talking about the genuine unknown. I’m not talking about the unpredictable. And I’m not talking about the changes in circumstances. Sometimes, we genuinely don’t know the answer or have life throw a curve ball our way. That happens. That’s expected.
I’m talking about the, “yeah, sure, maybe,” replies laced with hesitation or the lack of a reply just in case a better invitation comes along. The fear that if I say “yes” to something that I might miss out on some thing else I think is better, better being defined as something that’s better for me. And therein lies the problem. I think it’s all about me.
Our relational perspective is yet another extension of the “me” world in which we dare not admit we live. We look at opportunities to be with people as a commodity. We fail to acknowledge that our maybe replies are growing from a deep, down fear of missing out on something that is more fun, more hilarious, more beneficial, more interesting…more, more, more…of what I want, what I can get and what I need.
We weren’t created merely to focus on our needs, our wants and our desires. How selfish would that world be if all we cared about all the time was ourselves? How sad, how lonely, how depressing. We were created by a God who created out of love – an unconditional, giving, sacrificial love. And that God who created us was generous enough to create us in His image, to reflect His love to other people. We were created to be in relationship. And that relationship was not intended to be about “me.” We were created to reflect a God who loves and puts others first, a God whose perspective is to serve and care for the needs of others before ours, and that’s pretty awesome. And if that’s the case, then we should include – dare I say even prioritize? – others as we decide how to spend our time?
When we allow this fear to infiltrate our relationships it might seem like no big deal. It’s justified and easily accepted with the little things – dinner plans, holiday parties and movies suggested. But what happens when this has become a habit and our most natural response is to make decisions based on what’s in it for me? What will our deepest friendships, marriages and churches look like if we are a people who practices FOMO as a barometer for making decisions?
On the flip side, how wonderful, beautiful and richer would these same friendships, marriages and churches be if we intentionally created habits to go against functioning out of such a fear?