The Poisonous Nature of the Fear of Missing Out

The fear of missing out, or FOMO for short, is experienced by many. At its core, the fear is fed by options and opportunity. There is a term within economics called, opportunity cost, that counts the loss occurred when one pursues one opportunity at the expense of pursuing another. FOMO is this concept fleshed out within the human heart. 

The grand irony of FOMO is found in fact that it often is the cause of truly missing out. Missing out on the present moment, the current possessions, and the actual human presence, all lost due to the fear of what is not within one’s current space. Nowhere has this paralyzing and poisonous fear been so well captured than in Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar. She writes:

I saw my life branching out before me like a green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Let us strive not to starve to death at the foot of the tree of various opportunities. Rather, let us remember our own God given limitations, let us embrace our good and creaturely lack of omnipresence. Let us pray and think and ask which figs we ought to take. And then, let us take, let us eat, and let us give thanks for what has been given. 

Related Posts: How to (Never) Get What You Want

Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

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