Friday, 8 PM. You sit in your living room wondering what to do on a Friday night. You wonder what your other friends are doing. Boredom sets in and you feel the itch to do something to seize the night. You pull up Instagram Stories and you see your friends hanging out at an event downtown. “Wait, how come I wasn’t invited?”
Saturday, 6:30 PM. One friend group invites you to a beach bonfire and another group invites you to a concert in the park. You feel confused and overwhelmed about which option to choose. You’re afraid that choosing one option will make you miss out on the other.
Age 22, post-college life. Oh, the dreaded job applications. You begin applying for jobs but have no idea where to begin. There’s a lack of direction. You have numerous interests and want to do everything. You have a feeling that choosing one career will make you miss out on other opportunities.
If you have ever felt like any of these situations, you likely have the fear of missing out, or FOMO. It’s a form of social anxiety caused by the fear of one missing an opportunity or event, often escalated by social media.
FOMO is essentially fear at its core. When we make decisions based on fear, we make unhealthy choices. The Bible says: “For God has not given us a spirit of FEAR and timidity, but of power, love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Giving into fear relinquishes our power, love, and self-control and hands them over to fear itself.
In the age of information and social media, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and opportunities to choose from. If we make one decision to go one way, then we won’t be able to make up for the lost opportunity. This is stemming from a sense of lack and lost time.
So, what are some ways we can make sure to make healthy choices in spite of FOMO?
Create Boundaries On Technology
There’s no doubt that social media has allowed us to up our comparison game. We compare the way we look, how far along our careers are, the events we attend, and the list goes on.
Social media is great for staying updated with our friends and acquaintances, but if not utilized in a healthy manner, it can harm our mental health.
The University of Pittsburgh conducted a survey on the use of social media on our brains. It concluded that the use of multiple social media platforms was highly correlated with anxiety and depression.
Here are a few practical ways to place boundaries on social media:
1. Leave your phone outside the bedroom.
When we sleep, it’s best to put our minds in a state of rest and peace. On the contrary, scrolling through your Instagram feed at night may elicit negative thoughts as you go to sleep. Leaving your phone outside of your room allows you to sleep with ease. “But what if I use my phone as an alarm clock?” Invest in a normal alarm!
This also creates an environment to not check your phone as soon as you wake up. My recommendation would be to place your Bible close to your bed for morning devotionals. When we fill our minds with truth at the start of the day, it sets the tone for a more positive, healthy day and your mind isn’t filled with garbage and lies.
2. Place time limits on your social media use.
On my laptop, I have a Google Chrome extension app called StayFocused where I can only use Facebook for 10 minutes per day. Some of my other friends limit their use within specific hours of the day.
Time limits create opportunities to be focused and present. It allows you to honor God at work when you’re focused on the task at hand instead of checking what your friends are doing. It allows you to be fully present when eating meals with others instead of snapping food pics for your Instagram Story. When you are focused and present, you will be more captivated in the present moments than what’s going on in other people’s lives.
3. Recite aloud Scriptural truths and ditch the tech.
There is power in the words we speak. Over time, our minds fill up with junk — the voices of others, advertisements on media, the lies we tell ourselves. But how often do we encourage ourselves that we are more than enough, that we are loved and accepted, and precious children of God?
FOMO stems from the fear of lacking, that we don’t have enough if we miss out on opportunities; however, in Christ, we have more than enough.
I like to take long walks alone in nature without my phone and recite Scriptures out loud as I’m walking. Here is a list of 100 Biblical declarations you can use.
This practice replaces lies with truth and has the power to heal the mind and heart.
What practical steps can you take to mitigate FOMO and draw boundaries on your mobile use?