When FOMO Attacks


Are you making an idol of human connection?

When I was in fifth grade, I got a bad case of FOMO. A friend was having a birthday party. One with girls and boys. It was a big deal. But the party was the same night my parents had plans; they weren’t comfortable letting me go while they were out. I had to miss the party.

That’s when FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out—hit. My ten-year-old heart was devastated. My fear grew from the knowledge that the experiences shared by my friends—without me—would mean I would always be on the outside.

This is classic FOMO. FOMO is the rising anxiety when we aren’t in the know, either with facts or experiences. It’s a new term coined for our ever-connected digital age. It’s this access that awakens FOMO, pushing us to obsessively check social and news media. It tells us that the more we know, the more connected we will be to others and the world. So we check our gadgets, again and again, to avoid being the only ones unaware and out of the loop.

That childhood party incident wasn’t the only FOMO attack I’ve faced. As an adult, I sense it when I have empty space. I could be waiting in line or at a stoplight, and I get the urge to fill the void by checking my phone for updates. In practice, it feels like a good use of downtime. In print, this seems a rather silly way to fill every nook and cranny.

But FOMO isn’t about being reasonable. It’s hungry to have place and power. What I scanned fifteen minutes ago isn’t enough. Something else has certainly happened since my last fix! What if I don’t know something important?! And so I check again.

Like all addictions, FOMO is merely the desire for something right gone terribly awry. I see FOMO as a product of our desire for human connection and belonging. That’s not a bad thing. It’s part of our DNA: God hard-wired us for fellowship, with others and with Himself. But our natural bent for relationship has been marred by sin, leaving us with an ache for connection that no earthly person—even via media—can soothe.

The fear of missing out and being left out is a strong force in a woman’s heart. How we long to be chosen, to be included, and to belong! Over the years, when FOMO has hit me, God’s Word has been a sure anchor. In Isaiah 41, God promises:

“You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When I feel left out, God assures me that I’m chosen by Him. When I feel anxious about my relationships, God assures me that He is with me. And when I’m discouraged in the pursuit of true fellowship, God assures me that He is my God, ready to help with His mighty right hand.

FOMO is no match for truth like that.

Where and how do you see FOMO at work in your life?

This post was written by Erin Straza.

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