Not Missing Out
Updated: Jun 11, 2019
By John Hahn
You’ve probably experienced this at some point in your life: The movie you were waiting for finally come out in theaters. You make plans to go with friends. You purchase the reserved seating, reclining chair, IMAX. Let’s Go! The day arrives, and you are so pumped. But wait. Something comes up at work. Your boss needs you to stay longer. No movie. As you are stuck at the office finishing that project, your phone rings. You’ve got a notification. One of your friends posted a picture of your group huddled outside the movie entrance together. The caption, “I can’t wait! #CannotMissThis.” You groan.
Maybe it wasn’t a missed movie but a missed vacation. A summer trip to Tokyo. The planes tickets were really cheap. A couple friends invited you to come along. You
thought to yourself, “Japan, here I come. Sashimi, Technology, Kobe beef.” But wait, as you look in your calendar on your phone, you realize those trip dates overlap with the commitment you made with family, which you just RSVPed for. Sayonara. In place of your trip, you are sinking in your bed scrolling through your friend’s posts of their Wagyu steak. That’s the closest you will get to Japan this summer.
That fear of missing out is what people call FOMO. The Oxford dictionary defines FOMO as experiencing “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.” FOMO was first termed in 1996 and formally written about in 2000.
However, the experience of FOMO has been around from the first humans. But social media propels it to new heights by giving us access to texts, pictures and videos that show us what we are missing out on. According to scientists, there’s a physical component to FOMO too. The amygdala is the part of our brain that experiences stress when we see others having a good time. Psychotherapist Jenny Giblin writes, “The amygdala is kind of like a smoke detector. It signals the brain to activate the flight or fight response when we begin to feel threatened or unsafe.”
We experience FOMO in a variety of ways. We fear missing out on food, friends, marriage, having kids, owning a car or home. And the list goes on. The Bible records an individual who experienced FOMO just like us but with one game-changing difference. He had the resources and power to make sure that he got EVERYTHING he wanted. And he recorded his experience in the Book of Ecclesiastes. His name is Solomon.
He described all of life as “vanity and a striving after wind” (Eccl 1:14). Have you ever chased wind before? Maybe some of us feel that way in life, chasing money, possessions, relationships, pleasure and power only to find that instead of catching purpose and ultimate satisfaction, it eludes us, like trying to catch wind.
That frustration we feel started way back in the beginning of humanity. In the Garden of Eden, we choose to rebel against our good Creator exchanging fulfillment and longevity for futility and death.
But there’s good news. We don’t have to tire and frustrate ourselves by chasing the wind. Jesus invites us to come to him to experience soul satisfying rest (Matt 11:28-29). But, we can be prone to return to wind chasing. That’s where Solomon comes in. He will identify for us the things in this world that will tire and frustrate us if we chase them, so that we can instead find our rest and satisfaction in God. We invite you to join us on Sunday mornings as we learn how to experience this together.