I was sitting in my office one afternoon hammering away on a string of emails when I overheard a conversation in the hallway. Our office shares a building with a counseling center so I’m accustomed to hearing about the latest and greatest thing to come out of the psychology field. But this conversation was different than others. It grabbed my attention with talk of “FOMO.” Have you ever heard of “FOMO”? As I heard the conversation go on, I grew increasingly curious as to what “FOMO” really was. I took a break from my emailing and Googled “FOMO”.
Turns out, it’s an acronym for “fear of missing out.” Google defines “FOMO” as “anxiety that an exciting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” This social slang can become a real anxiety disorder people when it interferes with a person’s ability to function in their personal relationships. That level of fear doesn’t characterize most of us, but how many of us simply cannot stay away from social media, constantly checking our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to see if there is something going on we do not want to miss?
There is a core desire of all people at the root of a condition like “FOMO”. We desire connection with others.
However, most of us interact more with screens than we do with actual human beings. We wake up, turn on the news, we check our emails, text messages and social media. We get in a car or hop on the light rail to get to work where we send emails, write code, manage digital projects, design graphics, participate in video conferences. Screens, screens, and more screens.
I’m just as guilty as the average person. The last time I saw my optometrist, he told me that my eyes are getting worse probably because of the amount of time I spend looking at screens. My chiropractor and I spent several hours over the past few months working the cervical curve back into my neck because—after several years of writing seminary papers, reading and sending emails, and Facebooking—all the time spent on the computer had caused my neck to straighten.
Are there more consequences to this way of life than just the physical wear and tear on our bodies? How can we avoid stiff necks and conquer fears of missing out?
Simple—spend more time with real human beings.
Part of the bliss Adam and Eve experienced was perfect connection with each other, let alone the God of all creation. “(They) were naked and they felt no shame.” Adam shared intimacy and connection with Eve and God. There was perfect community amongst the three.
There’s something at the soul level of every human being that longs for connection with other human beings. We glorify God when we connect with others. God created Adam and Eve to share community with each other because it made him smile. It simply was good and gave him joy. Whenever we connect in community with one another, we bring God joy and experience the fulfillment of our soul-level longing to be with others. It doesn’t have to be fancy or well-planned. Start today with one step: look someone in the eye and ask them to hang out—out for coffee or lunch or a hike. You’re missing out until you do.
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