FOMO and Spiritual Economics



No, it is not a type of food. Rather, it is an acronym that refers to the Fear of Missing Out. This term describes a phenomenon that has rapidly taken our culture hostage.  This phenomenon is the fear that a person might miss out on doing something exciting or interesting, so they disengage from the world they are a part of in order to observe their world via social media. 


The concept of committing to a cause, group or idea seems to have become increasingly more difficult for many Americans. During my time teaching high school, I found that it was often like pulling teeth to get students to commit to coming to meetings for groups, to commit to coming in early/staying late to make up test, or to commit to coming to a school event.


Why was this?


They were afraid to make a commitment and then be stuck having to follow through with it, when they could be doing something “better.” This trend is not limited to adolescents alone. Many people in our culture struggle with committing to anything- a diet, relationship, job, volunteer activity, weekend plans, vacations- you name it. The struggle to decide what to do with one's free time has been made more difficult with the advances in technology and social media that keep one constantly in the loop of what their friends, co-workers and family members are doing at given moment. 


In thinking about FOMO, I cannot help but think about the field of economics and the terms: opportunity cost, trade off and cost-benefit analysis. For every decision in life there is going to be an opportunity cost- the idea that committing to one thing over another requires giving something up- i.e. the daily Dominican dilemma of what type of ice cream bar to have after supper- do I want the strawberry, the turtle, the cookies and cream or the toffee? I can only have one, so which one seems to be of the greatest value today? The trade off is the ice cream bars that I have not chosen.  The cost-benefit analysis is where I examine each option and determine which option best fulfills my desired characteristics (taste, desired flavor, caloric content, size, etc).

Now back to FOMO.  Each person only has twenty-four hours in a day, only 24 hours. Until a machine is made to give us longer days or someone figures out how to bi-locate, we are all limited in how we use our time and where can be.  How are we to best spend the limited amount of time we are given each day? It is important that we all give some thought to how we are to spend our days, so that we can accomplish the tasks that we need to and enjoy our wonderful world and all its opportunities!


In prioritizing our time, it is crucial that top priority be given to our relationships. As one of my high school teachers said, “The meaning of life is relationships- you must develop them and in them, show true love by drawing them to God.” With this being said, it is a good idea to prioritize your family, friends and yourself. 


But what about God? Where does He fit in the spectrum of things?  He should be number one on our list! To grow our relationship with God, it is key that we spend time with him- in prayer, in reflection upon Scripture and at Mass.  We all have busy lives.  Each of us has been given 1440 minutes each day to spend how we choose.  Are we willing to give God 5, 10 or 20 minutes of that? 


Giving God a few minutes of your day is beneficial for you- it allows you to grow your most important relationship, it provides time to recollect one's self before or after a busy day, and it will make you healthier!


It does not matter where you are or what you do during this time- read Scripture in your bedroom, sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a church, say a rosary while driving or just ponder the wonders of God's creation while walking- they are all excellent options.  During this time be sure to be away from all your electronic devices and give yourself the chance to be quiet, and to leave behind the worries and distractions of our fast-paced world.

So let us work to alleviate FOMO by recognizing that we cannot take part in every activity that is going on around us.  Obsessing over what we are missing out on will not make this truth any less painful.  Let us rather work to address the biggest thing that we are missing out on right now- growing our relationships with our family, friends and most importantly, God.


I encourage you to consider making it a habit (or grow your habit) of taking some quiet time to reflect, pray and put yourself in God's presence. Praying is a much better way to relax than surfing the internet, reading Twitter, looking at Instagram or watching trash on television.  On top of that, you may come to a better understanding of yourself and learn a few things from your Creator!


God Bless!