Tag Archives: FOMO

Should Christians be motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO)?

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

My best friend Dina and I recently spent some time talking over some articles that we found on the culture. We specifically talked about what is motivating young people, so I wanted to write something about that.

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

Here’s a leftist New York Times article explaining where FOMO comes from:

It’s known as FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” and refers to the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram. Billions of Twitter messages, status updates and photographs provide thrilling glimpses of the daily lives and activities of friends, “frenemies,” co-workers and peers.

[…]When we scroll through pictures and status updates, the worry that tugs at the corners of our minds is set off by the fear of regret, according to Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational” and a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. He says we become afraid that we’ve made the wrong decision about how to spend our time.

[…]A friend who works in advertising told me that she felt fine about her life — until she opened Facebook. “Then I’m thinking, ‘I am 28, with three roommates, and oh, it looks like you have a precious baby and a mortgage,’ ” she said. “And then I wanna die.”

It’s like they want to run a race to do fun and exotic things with their peers, and not finish last.

Anyway, I want to begin this post with examples of FOMO behavior I have personally encountered.

FOMO Travel

Dina and I read and discussed this article by Alain de Botton in The European – notice the emphasis on travel and having fun, sophisticated experiences:

We’re continually being bombarded with suggestions about what we might do (go jet skiing, study in Colorado, visit the Maldives or see the Pyramids). We’re always hearing of the amazing things friends have done or are going to do: ‘there was this great bar we all went to …’; ‘she’s getting married in a little country church, then we’re having a picnic…’; ‘the sun was glinting on Sydney Harbour…’ There are endless hints of the allure of life in other places: an article about family-friendly restaurants in Brooklyn, a crime novel set in Trieste, the departure board at the airport with its list of places only a plane trip away: Moscow, Bangkok, Addis Ababa… The modern world makes sure we know at all times just how much we’re missing. It is a culture in which intense and painful doses of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) are almost inevitable.

What’s interesting is this – how does FOMO travel affect young, unmarried Christians?

Travel through missions work seems to be the FOMO activity of choice for at least a few young, unmarried Christians. One of my best friends who is married to another of my best friends told me about her missions trip to a European country. I asked her why she did it, since it meant lost savings, lost earnings, lost work experience, etc. (She gave up a year of earnings, and she had a great job in engineering). Her answer was that she did it for the adventure. I have a hard time hearing Jesus say that he was going to do something because he was bored and wanted an adventure. Especially when it’s $30,000 in costs, $60,000 of lost income, and lost work experience – per year. This was before the time of the Internet, though, when missionary work actually made sense. I just don’t think it’s worth spending that kind of money for the impact you make. The people I know who went on missionary trips just wanted to feel spiritual, look spiritual, and have a fun “life experience” vacation. One missionary told me that she was desperate to get away from her boring mid-Western roots.

If you really want to share Christ effectively with people in other countries, then you can start a blog and pay the tiny costs for it out of your earnings from your day job – that’s what I do. I get more people from Europe reading my blog than I could contact in a year of missionary work. I Skype with the people who are interested in Christianity from these countries (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, Canada, etc.), as well. Meanwhile, I keep working my not-exciting job, so my savings increase, and my resume remains gap-less. This is good stewardship of finances, and self-denial prepares your character for the hard work of marriage and parenting. The Bible says that those who do not work should not eat. And Paul says that he built tents so that no one could accuse him of taking on missionary work for financial gain.

You can tell whether a person is sincere in their missionary intentions by looking at how responsible they’ve been in their decision-making. If a person has gone into debt paying for fun, thrilling activities like skydiving, ziplining, surfing, etc., then it’s FOMO travel. We must look past the spiritual smokescreen, and tell young people to grow up.

After all, if defending God’s honor was the missionary’s main goal, then the real battlefield would be the university.

Bill Craig puts it best:

If serving God is your goal, look to the university
If serving God is your goal, look to the university

There is already a perfectly fine university right next door – no need to fly to Europe to find one! Remember, the university that took your faith away, or maybe the faith of someone you cared about? Yeah, it’s still sitting there in your home town! And it’s still ruining the lives of thousands of young people, by peer-pressuring them into secular, liberal views – and behaviors. It seems to me that it’s better stewardship to stay here and work, then give money to groups like Reasonable Faith. And you can start a blog, teach in church and invite scholars to the local university, too. That costs almost nothing, and it produces better results.

What about Jesus?

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to look beyond the words of the Bible and reflect on the overall message of it at a higher level. When I look in the Bible, I see that Jesus went through a lot of suffering in obedience to God in order to secure the salvation of people who did not even like him. And it’s from this sacrifice on our behalf that his claim on our obedience comes. There are things that I don’t like to do that I do anyway because they work to serve God. Jesus life’s ambition was not to do things that were easy, or that made him happy. Experienced Christians do things that are not fun, because these things are right and because they solve the real problem.

Study: women seeking to have a child should start before age 32

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Dina sent me this sobering piece of research from the New Scientist which is perfect for all the young feminists who have been taught in college that marriage should be put off, and women can easily get pregnant after age 40.

Excerpt:

It’s a question many people will ask themselves at some point in their lives: when should I start a family? If you know how many children you’d like, and whether or not you would consider, or could afford, IVF, a computer model can suggest when to start trying for your first child.

Happy with just one? The model recommends you get started by age 32 to have a 90 per cent chance of realising your dream without IVF. A brood of three would mean starting by age 23 to have the same chance of success. Wait until 35 and the odds are 50:50 (see “When to get started”).

The suggestions are based on averages pulled from a swathe of data so don’t give a personal prediction. And of course, things aren’t this simple in real life – if only family size and feelings about IVF were the only factors to consider when planning a family. But the idea behind the model is to help people make a decision by condensing all the information out there into an accessible form.

“We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making process,” says Dik Habbema at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the creators of the model. “My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do.”

It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many; the age at which people have their first child has been creeping up over the last 40 or so years. For example, the average age at which a woman has her first child is 28 in the UK and has reached 30 in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In the US, the birth rate for women in their 20s has hit a record low, while the figures for those over 35 have increased over the last few decades.

The decision is more pressing for women thanks to their limited supply of eggs, which steadily drop in quantity and quality with age. Female fertility is thought to start declining at 30, with a more significant fall after the age of 35.

[…]The new model incorporates data from studies that assess how fertility naturally declines with age. The team took information on natural fertility from population data collected over 300 years up to the 1970s, which includes data on 58,000 women.

I have often tried to talk to young women about the need to get their lives in gear. I advise them to work summers during high school, obtain a STEM degree in university, minimize borrowing money by going to community college for the generic prerequisites, don’t have premarital sex, get a job related to their STEM field straight out of college, pay off their debts, move out of their parents’ house, start investing from the first paycheck, marry between age 25-30, and then start having children after the first two “stabilizing” years of marriage. This is sound advice, rooted in my careful reconnaissance of the things that human beings care about and need in their old age. This advice is not bullying, it comes from reading many, many relevant papers. It comes from putting the knowledge gained from reading the papers into practice, and seeing results where appropriate.

I am giving you the numbers. Straight out of a peer-reviewed study. Don’t follow your heart. Don’t listen to your friends. Follow the science. Make your decisions within the boundaries of reality. God will not save you from foolish decisions.

Related posts

Unmarried 34-year-old woman vows to change shark into loving, faithful husband by hand-feeding him raw meat

Melissa Brunning dispenses advice and posts exotic selfies on her page “Wild and Free”

Melissa Brunning is a 34-year-old unmarried woman who operates a Facebook page called “Wild and Free“. On that page, she posts inspirational quotes about travel, fun, following your heart, as well as pictures from all her exotic vacations. The “about” section of the (public) page says “My mission is to inspire others to break free from 9-5 & live LIFE on their terms, to be WILD and FREE to follow their dreams, to explore & go on adventure”.

Here is her philosophy in one photo:

Life is too short to waste time listening to wise people
Life is too short to waste time listening to people with demonstrated ability and success

Anyway, you can look at all the selfies of her with her cat, her bikinis, etc. on her personal Facebook page. The reason for this post is because Melissa met a new guy on Match.com. He has everything that she wants. He’s tall. He’s strong. He’s smooth. He has really great teeth. And most importantly, he gives the impression that he could really lose his temper at any minute and attack other men violently. Melissa is sure that she can get around that problem somehow, though. Although the man lived 1500 miles away from her, this was no problem, because Melissa loves to travel, and  this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime exotic adventure!

The West Australian reported on her date:

Melissa Brunning was on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip cruising the majestic Kimberley on a friend’s superyacht, so when an opportunity arose to feed a placid shark she was scared, but her adventurous spirit willed her to give it a go.

But it all ended in a freak shark bite incident that left the Perth woman grateful she didn’t lose a finger.

The last of her friends to try feeding the three to four Tawny nurse sharks hanging around the back of the boat, what Ms Brunning didn’t realise until it was too late was that she shouldn’t hand feed the 2m shark, rather place the piece of fish in front of her and watch it go by and suck it up.

With a suction “like a Hoover”, the shark sucked Ms Brunning’s right index finger into its mouth full of rows of razor sharp teeth.

Mobile phone footage filmed by a friend of the incident at the end of May shows Ms Brunning screaming as she’s pulled from the back of the boat into the croc-infested water as the shark swims off.

Oh no! The hot alpha male bad boy ate her food, bit her, and swam away without even leaving his phone number. Typical whale! Er, I mean shark. It wasn’t her fault! There was no way to predict from his appearance that he would become violent and unfaithful. It was the shark’s fault – he lied to her. He presented himself as kind and sweet. The shark’s toxic masculinity was clearly to blame. #Patriarchy #MeToo

Melissa is quoted in the article about the break-up with the sharp-looking thug: “We’re not meant to be in the water, if we were we’d have gills.” It was a love not meant to be. But while in the hospital getting taxpayer-funded health care for the “unexpected” result of her irrational choices, a nurse gave her the phone number of a hot looking crocodile who was just being released from prison. Maybe things will work out with him? At least her friends will be envious if she posts a selfie with him.

You can have a lot of fun reading the inspirational quotes on her Wild and Free page, and even more fun if you insert something about trying to hand feed a shark into each one.

Here are some:

  • When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life
  • Take every chance you get in life because some things only happen once
  • Life is an adventure, dare it
  • Live in the moment
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try
  • Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing
  • Be crazy, be stupid, be silly, be weird, be whatever – because life is too short to be anything but happy

I think the common denominator here is this glorification of thrill seeking and fun, at the expense of having a slow, deliberate plan that achieves a real result. When your sole purpose in life is to have good feelings, it becomes impossible to exercise self-control for the sake of something higher, like serving God. The pattern of always choosing self, self, self becomes impossible to break.

This sort of thrill-seeking lifestyle works when you’re young and pretty, but it doesn’t really set you up for success in the last 50 years of your life. A woman needs to use her pre-marriage time wisely. She needs to train up her wife and mother skills, and develop patience and maturity by doing hard things. She has to train herself to keep commitments if her marriage is to last. A stable marriage requires her to get comfortable with self-sacrifice. She has to train her character to be content with stability. She needs to stop seeking thrills and learn how to delay gratification.

I am seeing this attitude of hers a lot in young Christian women. There doesn’t seem to be much of a vision for marriage and family being taught to women today. Women don’t see Christianity as something that overrides their pleasure-seeking and self-centeredness. Instead, they just sing praise hymns, read devotionals, listen to Joyce Meyer’s prosperity gospel sermons, and focus on themselves. Nutrition, fitness and travel are all good, but they cannot be the main things in life for an authentic Christian.

Christians should be concerned with God’s reputation and God’s goals. Christians are meant to serve God, not themselves. Christians have to do what works for God, like apologetics. There is no such thing as a Christian whose Facebook and Instagram page celebrates “self-love”, thrill-seeking, exotic vacations, etc. A real Christian always does what works to serve God. Jesus was good at self-denial and self-control. He was obedient to God even when it cost him his life. He didn’t go on exotic vacations and do pointless, risky things to get fun and thrills.

If you missed my previous post on radical feminists turning to mermen to get around the problem of “toxic masculinity” in normal men, then be sure to read that.