Have you ever had FoMO?
I’m guessing that you have, though you probably just didn’t know that it was called that. FoMO, a new acronym begotten by the younger generation (and now officially recognized by the Oxford Dictionary), is simply the “Fear of Missing Out.” One might use the term in a way such as this, “Oh man, I had FoMO last night because I couldn’t go to the concert with all of my friends.” People often use “FoMO” in relation to social media, which has the ability to insert you psychologically into a certain setting with certain people without the actual reality of being there. Now, while the term “FoMO” has been coined by the younger generation of Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat users, people have been experiencing the “Fear of Missing Out” since long before the days of social media.We just didn’t have a name for it then.
Why do we experience FoMO? Because we are rarely satisfied with our current situation. As human beings, we’re needy creatures. I’m not just talking about the material needs of our bodies. We’re all needy at the deeper level of the heart. We need companionship, we need friends, we need love. The human heart is complicated, and “who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? In FoMO we experience the neediness of our heart, the unfulfilling lack of belonging, and it frightens us. We can be afraid that we weren’t worthy enough to receive an invite somewhere. Another fear might creep in if we couldn’t make a certain gathering and we think we could’ve been way happier if we would have been at this place with those people. Many times, though, these are lies we are perpetrating in our own minds. We far too often have a narrow view of fulfilling our own needs, which starts us on a downward spiral of negative thought. So, what is the way out of this slump?
We can look to three things to cure this uneasiness: acts of thanksgiving, the Eucharist, and the communion of saints. Having a thankful heart helps us to realize that we truly are weak and wounded creatures in need of many things. Exercising this virtue will also help us see that we’ve already been given much to be thankful for, such as the simple materials we have and the life of grace we partake in. In speaking about thanksgiving we ought to remember that the word “Eucharist” comes from Greek and means simply “thanksgiving.” So the Mass can be the best place to give thanks. During Mass, we have the gift of being surrounded by the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), the saints, who show us that we are not alone and who join us in worshiping Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. How could we have Fear of Missing Out on something else when we are with the holy ones in heaven along with the whole community of believers on earth who are united by the Holy Spirit?
The Church calls this supernatural reality the communion of saints. St. Josemaría Escrivá gives us a penetrating insight into what this gift calls us to as he says,
Constantly call to mind that at every moment you are cooperating in the human and spiritual formation of those around you, and of all souls—for the blessed Communion of Saints reaches as far as that. At every moment: when you work and rest; when people see you happy or worried . . . you pray as does a child of God and the peace of your soul shows through; when people see that you have suffered, that you have wept, and you smile.
The Forge, 846
God does not leave us orphaned. We belong to something bigger than ourselves. The opportunity for communion through prayer and the people around us gives us the grounding we need to drive out insecurity from our hearts. As we continue this Advent, this season of longing, a question comes to mind: why be somewhere else when you can rest and calm your worrisome heart in the arms of the Savior?