19 August 2013


Today's society gives us more choices than ever before.  Social media and social networking introduces new issues that can work with us or against us.  Sometimes this depends on how we deal with them.

One particular phenomenon is the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO.  Research by marketing strategist Dan Herman, who claims to have identified and named the phenomenon, shows that around 70% of adults experience FoMO.

Sarah-Jane Marshall of the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity explains: 'The FoMO experience is based on the fear of 'what will I miss because I don't have the necessary time or money, or because I do have another barrier of some kind?'
She goes on to quote psychologist Arnie Kozak who explains that 'FoMO happens when we invalidate the experience we are having because we're obsessed with the ones we're not having.  Handled positively FoMO can motivate us to seize opportunities and be open to connections with new people.  However, managed badly, FoMO cripples our ability to be fully present because we always have one eye elsewhere, on what could have been or might be instead.'

FoMO can be shown in the big and small decisions of life.  Who has wondered what they are missing when they have been unable to chose not to attend an event?  Who has thought about whether they should have chosen one career option over another?  Or one house and community over another?

One aspect of a busy community is that many people feel obliged to say 'yes' to many more things than they have time and a desire for.  This can lead to a huge amount of stress and even depression.

FoMO is made all the more acute by the use of social media.  Not only are we aware of the event that we chose not to go to, but we can view the photographs that tell us that we are missing what we might perceive to be the event of the year.

There is a great need to step away from the frantic pace of modern life.  You could make a point of not reading those emails until later.  You might make a conscious decision to spend time with the family instead of that event that everyone seems to be going to.  You may turn off your mobile phone!  But one thing that would really help would be to concentrate on the 'now' and not on what we think may be coming.

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