Do you have FOMO? It’s a terrible way to live. The first things you notice are sweaty palms. Your anxiety grows. Your toes start to tap. It’s hard to concentrate. Perhaps you’re in class, listening to an important lecture but you can’t take the tension any longer. Your hand creeps into your pocket and you grab your cell phone for a little relief. It’s been only 15 minutes but you must check your text messages! That’s when you know you have it. FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out.
It’s first named, as far as I know, in the 2012 book by author Larry Rosen entitled “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us.” Rosen notes 50 percent of teens and young adults become “moderately or highly anxious” when disconnected too long from technology. Sixty-six percent check text messages every 15 minutes or less. The majority of students text during classes even though they agree it makes them unable to listen as well as they would like to their teachers. Rosen suggests schools start allowing breaks every 15 minutes precisely to allow students to concentrate better in between.
The problem is not just one for the young. In a New York Times article a corporate lawyer, Peter Hecker, talks about emails. He says that when he hears the chiming alert indicating he has one, he has disciplined himself to continue working for another 30 seconds before looking at it. When questioned about whether he could go 30 minutes, his response reveals much about the age we live in. “Deep thought for a half-hour? Boy, that’s hard. Does anyone ever really have deep thoughts for half an hour anymore?”
FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out.
But somehow FOMO hasn’t jumped into the spiritual realm. We can’t go 15 minutes without reading what our friends are texting and couldn’t possibly miss a day without seeing what our friends are posting on Facebook, but missing out on prayer seems easier than ever. God may be begging to get our attention; indeed, our mailbox may be full. But going 30 seconds or 30 minutes without speaking and listening to God may not cause our palms to sweat at all.
Yet there is a better way to think of being with God than considering FOMO. I’ve thought of replacing the word “fear” with “joy” and using the phrase JOKU. JOKU: The Joy of Keeping Up. This seems to be what the author has in mind in the Bible when he says “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3. He believes that by staying close to God, he receives good gifts that make him glad. He isn’t motivated by fear, but by joy.
I like that better. JOKU: The Joy of Keeping Up.
Do you have JOKU? It’s a great way to live.
Rick Cupp serves as minister at the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 Spur Highway, Kenai. Sunday Bible classes are at 10 a.m., worship 11:15. Wednesday meal is at 6:15 p.m., worship, Bible study at 7 p.m.