Getting Free from FOMO
Getting Free from FOMO
Imagine you’re sitting in bed at 9pm on a Friday night. You’re enjoying a book that you’ve been wanting to read. You’re only on page 4 when you see your phone light up with a notification. Your friend just posted a photo, along with a few of your other friends. They all had an epic dinner at this place you always wanted to try. What are you feeling right now?
Imagine you’re sitting in your little office cubicle. You’re putting numbers into little boxes in spreadsheets all day long. Your phone lights up. It’s a message from your friend who’s got a job where he only needs to work a few hours a week. He’s sending you a video from Indonesia, where’s he’s on a surf trip. He was just in Fiji surfing Cloudbreak the week before. What are you feeling right now?
What you’re feeling is FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. That’s a phrase that was coined back in the 90’s. It’s an emotion people have been experiencing for thousands of years, but with the explosion of social media, it’s been magnified over the last few years.
Scientists have even traced the physiology of FOMO. They say it’s triggered by your amygdala, this little almond-shaped cluster of neurons deep in your brain. When you feel like you don’t have something that would be good for you to have, your amygdala starts firing. You feel stressed, anxious, and fearful.
There are many things that can trigger it. You can feel FOMO about experiences. You think this amazing view on a hike you saw on Instagram would change your life. Or visiting a certain island on the other side of the world will change your life.
You experience FOMO about comfort. You think a nice house, or a nice car, or nice stuff will change your life. You experience it in your career. You think a new job or a new title will change your life. You experience FOMO in your relationships. You think finding the perfect man, or finding the perfect woman will change your life. You think having the perfect family with perfect kids will change your life.
So you get on this treadmill of pursuing all these kinds of things, and then posting about it so you can give everyone else FOMO. Eat. Drink. Post. Travel. Experience. Post. Work to get a paycheck so you can keep on eating, drinking, traveling, experiencing, and posting. And for some reason, after all that? We never end up as fulfilled as we thought we would. We actually end up emptier than we were before.
And there’s a guy who experienced the same thing a few thousand years ago. King Solomon. He wanted to make sure that he never missed out on anything. He pursued money, women, and wine. He had castles, palaces, and boats. He went on trips and vacations, had epic experiences and encounters.
And he tells us all about it in his book, Ecclesiastes. He wrote Ecclesiastes at the end of his life, when he finally realized how empty he felt after he pursued all these things. His perspective: it’s all meaningless. “Absolute futility, absolute futility. Everything is futile” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Many of us already realized this, we just couldn’t put words to it. We’re bored and lonely on the endless treadmill of eating and drinking and climbing the ladder at work. Doing it over and over again without any kind of enjoyment or fulfillment. Without any idea of what it’s all for, or what it all means.
As Solomon says, “What does a person gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3). That’s the key that unlocks what Solomon’s really trying to say. He’s talking about the futility of everyday life in this fallen world. We need to remember that the world wasn’t always this way. In the Garden of Eden, before we rebelled against God, everything had meaning and purpose. Then we ruined it all. That’s why we experience futility in the world and in life. But the world won’t always be this way. Jesus says in Revelation 21 that he’s in the process of making all things new.
So while we’re living in the in-between time? While Jesus is still redeeming this fallen, broken, futile world? We need to figure out what’s futile in this world so we can figure out what’s not. And that’s what Solomon was trying to help us do when he wrote Ecclesiastes. He’s showing us the absolute futility of everything under the sun so we’ll learn to lift our eyes to what’s above the sun.
There is a God who’s above the sun, and he gives absolute fulfillment instead of absolute futility. Join us on Sunday mornings for our study of Ecclesiastes and learn how to experience it.