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.