Confession: I am the posterchild for FOMO.
Fear Of Missing Out.
I fear missing out on the experience, the activity, the gathering, the moment.
This becomes self-destructive when I sprint through life too fast and hard. Fail to pause, rest, breathe. Forget to savor and say thanks.
FOMO rests in the palm of my hand. Sits in my back pockets. Rests on the table between us.
For me, FOMO bings and dings throughout the day.
All too often I reach for the device like an addict. Maybe you wrestle with this, too.
As we read through the Gospel of John for Lent, I’m struck by reading after reading that grounds me in the truth I don’t have to live with FOMO. Jesus keeps intersecting people’s lives and transforming them.
FOMO fades when we discover True Life.
It’s a privilege to host a guest post…here’s Dave:
We are the most connected culture in history. Paradoxically, I would argue that we are the most disconnected culture from God, one another, and even ourselves.
How is it possible that we have so many tools to communicate with everyone around us and yet we still feel sad and alone? I started on a journey to identity the attitudes, actions, and things that cause me to stumble over sacred moments that I believe are available every day. One problem
kept surfacing over and over in my life.
Devices. Especially my smartphone.
I confess to you that I was addicted to my phone. That disturbing admission to myself, God, and wife was a game-changing moment. There was nothing inherently wrong with the smartphone that had become my most consistent companion. If fact, there is an incredible amount of good that I garnered from that device. I could make video calls to my precious grandchildren and be present in their lives even when distance separated us. I could be in real-time contact with others about prayer needs. I could instantly drop words of encouragement to hurting friends and family.
That was my justification for having my smartphone always at my side. If I was at a meal, the phone was face up on the table, in case some “important” message came in. The glowing seductress was next to my bed at night. I found myself being distracted when my wife wanted to talk. This is not fun to write, but that had become my pattern.
Psychologist David Greenfield notes in an article in WebMD that these devices are addictive because they are “psychoactive.” Email, in particular, gives us satisfaction due to what psychologists call “variable ratio reinforcement.” That is, we never know when we’ll get a satisfying email, so we keep checking—over and over again. “It’s like slot machines,” Greenfield says. “We’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”
So what do we do with these devices? Recognize that they are useful tools when utilized in a responsible way. Any good thing can become an idol when we make it the ultimate thing.
Take simple steps like turning the phone off during dinner. Keep the smartphone in another room at night. Don’t answer a call or text when you are having a conversation with someone. I can tell you this is especially helpful if the other person is your spouse! Wean yourself away from devices for periods of time. Schedule your checking of emails instead of refreshing your phone constantly for a “pleasurable hit.”
The apostle Paul has a couple of helpful thoughts to make these devices helpful companions instead of dominating forces.
The first, written to the Roman church, is incredibly applicable today.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)
Then Paul gives us a great template for how we should think.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9, NLT)
Muting the phone and meditating on those two passages would be a great way to begin reconnecting with God and others.
About the Author . . . Dave Burchett is a successful television sports director with experiences that include the Olympic Games as well as professional and collegiate sports. Dave directed television coverage of Texas Rangers baseball for more than thirty years. His new book, Waking Up Slowly: Spiritual Lessons from My Dog, My Kids, Critters, and Other Unexpected Places challenges the reader to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the ways that God reveals himself daily. He is also the author of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace and When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Dave enjoys speaking to churches and groups and regularly blogs at DaveBurchett.com. Dave and his wife, Joni, have three grown sons, several grandchildren, and another rescued Lab.
(This post sponsored by Tyndale House Publishers).