Scrolling down through our Facebook feed or Instagram feed it’s so easy to watch and read updates and lose all track of time. We so easily become distracted by the endless stories we can scroll that include funny memes, old videos, and the many fun things about life our friends and family post and share. For some of us including our kids (especially teens), the constant need to check social media has become a powerful behavior, almost an addiction. Our fear of missing out (FOMO) starts to control us. If you feel social media is taking over your life, you might need to turn your FOMO into the joy of missing out (JOMO).
FOMO seems to creep up on us. At first, we don’t realize it’s happening. Maybe, we start by just checking our social media once or twice a day. Then, we turn on alerts. We want to check every time we see a new alert pop-up. We feel an urgent need to check the status updates, see who said what, where are they, what are they doing. We must know now.
Yes, FOMO is a real thing. Just try to leave your phone for a few hours with checking messages or social media. Many of us will feel frustrated. We feel like we are missing out on something. Right?
What are you really missing?
Have you stopped to think about what are you really missing?
If you don’t check social media for a day or even a few days, what are you really missing?
I often wonder if the glimpses we see on social media are true life. We see smiling faces, we see people having lots of fun, we see people on great vacations we wish we could take. Yes, these things happen, but they aren’t everyday life. Most of the time, these moments are the exceptions.
Do you really know anyone who is perfectly happy all the time, never seems to have to go to work, is always doing something fun, is always with their family and friends having a great time? But so often when we scroll social media this is what we see. It seems like all our friends are having a 24-hour great life and we are missing it.
We start to think “other people” (whoever those mystery other people are) must have a much better life than I have.
The Problem of FOMO
FOMO causes us stress
Social media steals our joy and causes us stress.
When you scroll through your social media feeds, do you see friends (people you know well and some just acquaintances) living what appears to be great lives?
Yes, it’s fun to see pictures of friends on vacation. It’s awesome to see their kids birthday parties and how they have grown since the last time you saw them. In many ways, social media replaces photo albums and home movies, right? We don’t share these photos and movies with a select few, we share them with the world. That’s fun.
But, as we scroll through social media, let’s be happy for our friends and not try to compare ourselves to them. When we start to compare ourselves with others, we start to become stressed and worried. We lose our joy because we don’t measure up.
If you ever had thoughts like this when scrolling social media, “why don’t I have a life like …. (fill in the person’s name)?” or “why does (fill in the person’s name) seem to always have great cars, great vacations, and great kids?” You might be comparing yourself to others.
The comparison trap is especially stressful for teens and young adults. They watch their peers and see what they are doing. Then compare themselves to others.
We should all focus on remembering our value comes from God. We are made in the image of God, we are valuable and important to Him. We don’t want to compare ourselves to others.
We have assurance God will fulfill His plan for our lives in Psalm 138:8 (ESV), “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
If you find yourself in the comparison trap, try spending less time on social media and more time with people in real life.
FOMO causes lost time and productivity
Social media steals our time. We think to ourselves, I’ll just check for a minute. Then 5 minutes later we are still scrolling before we know it’s been 20 minutes or longer.
Did you know that if you only scrolled social media for 5 minutes a day, you would spend over 30 hours on social media a year (that’s more than 1 full day)?
If you spent 20 minutes a day on social media (still low for many of us), you would spend over 121 hours on social media or 5 full days a year on social media.
If you spent 60 minutes a day on social media, you would send 365 hours a year or 15 days a year on social media!
When you start to put just a few minutes a day into perspective on social media, you can see how much time is lost.
The time we spend on social media is time we could use for finishing projects, reaching our goals, having in-person talks with our family and friends.
FOMO causes us to miss the present
Sadly, when we get lost in social media our present gets stolen too.
How many times have you missed an important moment or conversation because you were too involved with your phone or social media?
When you are out at restaurants, have you noticed how many people are sitting at the tables all playing on their phones or devices while waiting for their food, not talking with each other not being present in this moment?
In our home, we have a rule that you don’t bring your device to the dinner table (I even make guests turn off their devices at the table too). I want the dinner table and meal times to be a time when we have conversations with each other – real people and are not just sitting and watching videos or typing messages as fast as we can. We need to learn to be present.
More and more, as technology has changed, we are seeing younger people be less social, less involved in activities that require interaction. They think that playing games together on the internet or talking in group chats replaces personal relationships. They are missing the present.
Moments in life happen too fast. We don’t want to miss any of these moments. Take time each day to be present and be in the moment with your family and friends.
Embrace the JOMO
JOMO allows us to embrace real relationships
When we realize that social media is not a replacement for knowing people, we can start to build personal relationships.
We can plan activities to do things together with friends and family. The more we do things together, we can build our relationships.
We can share our hobbies and personal interests and work on projects together.
JOMO allows us to make true memories
True memories are made by spending time with friends and family.
We won’t remember the hours we spend scrolling social media. But we will remember the days and moments we spend with our kids and our families.
Putting down your phone and skipping social media means you will get to spend more time with the most important people in your life.
What memories will you make today?
Don’t let your kids remember you always holding a phone and scrolling.
JOMO allows us to love what we are doing right now
Live the moment you have right now, not the moment you wish you had.
No matter what you are doing right now, love this moment. Love what you are doing this moment. Embrace everything by laughing more, playing more, smiling more, shedding more tears. Live this moment to the fullest. For this moment will soon be gone and you will be wishing you could have it back.
The true FOMO should be that we miss a moment with a loved one, that we miss living our life to the fullest because we did not embrace the time we had right now and we let social media steal our time, our joy and our present.
Embrace JOLM (Joy of Living the Moment). Live with joy today in the present, making memories, doing what you love.
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