Category Archives: independence

Ripped Off By FOMO

 

FOMO
Our flock of wild turkeys

The premise is simple: because we have a fear of missing out on life (FOMO), we stare at smart phones for hours and actually miss out on life. It’s sad and it is increasing our levels of depression, especially in kids and teens.

It is true that they are physically safer locked in their rooms staring at social media, but emotionally they are being compromised. Why? They are aware of all the things they didn’t get invited to, or are not able to participate in. And it makes them depressed, sometimes even suicidal. And it distracts them from homework and joining in with the family.

Granted, earlier generations may have sat around the “boob tube”, soaking in the inane antics of some comedy show. But at least it was a group activity, usually with some sort of interaction and running commentary. There was a sense of togetherness that just seems missing today. But truthfully, there was a bigger world just outside the front door that was being largely ignored then also.

How about us adults?

Are we much different? I guess our work life or parenting interrupts our addiction to social media, but it seems like the ubiquitous cell phone travels with us everywhere. Could it be that by our example we are actually reinforcing the value of constant electronic connection to our kids?

I didn’t have a smart phone until this month (and truth be told I’m still afraid to learn it) but I sure have wasted thousands of hours on my computer. I don’t deny that it has added a lot of value to me as well, and surely wouldn’t give it up. I mean, how would I know my schedule? How could I write spelling perfect blogs without it? But do I really need to know who is angry over whatever?

As I get older my real fear is that I will miss out on the one and only life that God has granted me. I’m scared I will miss out on all the wonderful things that surround me while I have my nose stuck in a 14” laptop or a 6” smart phone screen. And I am sad that I am such a willing participant.

Every night around dusk a flock of wild turkeys walks down to get a drink from the river. Occasionally they will be joined by a few deer. Ducks will float down the river on their journey to who knows where. But many days I miss it because I am nose down in electronic media gathering useless information. What is it that I am afraid of missing out on that’s more important?

There is a myth that we must carve out quality time for children – but the truth is that quality moments come in the midst of a quantity of time. Quality moments can’t be scheduled and they can’t be manufactured. They just happen, and we want to be there when they do. And not just with our children. The other people we care about qualify as well. Sure, we are busy and so we have to do the best we can within the constraints of life. But even so, if we are absorbed by FOMO we will likely become a victim of it. Look up, not down. Don’t get ripped off.

Moving From Me to We

87627-dream-wedding-couple-wedding-on-the-beach

Sometimes one of hardest challenges for a newly married couple is adjusting to the loss of individual status. Prior to the wedding there were still a lot of decisions that could be made without regard to any other input. However, once we say “I DO” we move to another life position. In other words we move from “I and me”, to “we and us”.

Hopefully during the dating and engagement process we have been gradually making that shift as we see the possibility and then the near certainty that we are going to join our lives. By the time we finish wedding planning we should have had a lot of experience in this new “we thinking”.

But sometimes this is a difficult transition. I often hear the phrase “my wedding”, and “my honeymoon” and other similar phrases. In every case it does not mean that there is a problem brewing in this area – but it bears checking out. Will this continue into the marriage with “my car, my money, my house, my kids etc.”?

In a healthy marriage the “me and you” thinking takes a backseat to “us” thinking. Most decisions are now joint decisions. Compromising is the order of the day. Taking turns is gracefully accepted. Reasonable self-sacrifice is expected. This does not mean that we lose ourselves. There is still a part of us that is separate from each other.

What it does mean is that we trade our full independence for partial autonomy.

For less (emotionally) mature individuals, this shift can be especially difficult. There may be some leftover childhood issues to deal with, or some core personality traits that need to be surrendered to God’s authority. When things have been forcibly taken from you, it may be painful to share power.

We want to bring the healthiest possible self to a new relationship and this may require some rigorous self-examination and correction. But the rewards of that process are manifold.