FOMO is a very real thing and it may influence our prophetic art journey. It's time to ditch it!
Black Friday sales are based on the Fear Of Missing Out
Social Media is based on the Fear Of Missing Out
Every call to ‘How to run your Art Business’ is based on the Fear Of Missing Out
Millions of minuscule responses run through our brain in reaction to what we see and read. The churning of the world relies on these responses. The algorithms plot and pinpoint behind the scenes, and yep, are all based on these biological responses.
If something interests us, it’s tracked. Whether we stop and read, just hover over a post or actually click and buy – it’s all recorded and then used to manipulate us.
Many people are now fully aware that this happens. My question is: does it make any difference to how we live our lives?
I recently became despondent over how everything I was doing seemed to always end in “selling” it – I am an artist, writer, and jewellery designer, and thus I make products – at times, the influence for Kingdom purposes seems so far away. I beseeched the Lord; oh why can’t I just do what I love and paint and write without having to mess around in the world of marketing the paintings and writings?
I know many artists who pray the same prayer kind of prayer: “Lord, I just want to paint! Can you take care of the rest?” They do not feel called to be a ‘Lydia’, (the entrepreneur mentioned in Acts 16:15).
You know what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me? “It has been the same since Cain and Abel”. I had to think about that. The meaning wasn’t instantly clear. I did not feel it answered my question, yet I knew the message was there.
Slowly (yes, I can be slow to understand the Lord sometimes!) I began to see the FOMO involved in human interaction and that it has been the same for centuries.
I also saw how the curse of Cain and Abel has infiltrated our relationships in this century, in our interactions with the social media, advertising, and marketing that constantly assault us. Digital technology – in the shape of curated lifestyles – compromises the human cognition and our well-being.
When we allow our reactions to the visual stimulus on our screens rule our feelings, it becomes a case of not trusting God to care for us. It’s not something we can talk our way around, it happens instantly within our brain. Our attitudes matter to the Lord far more than human wisdom. Cain and Abel’s story was – in part – about the comparison we engage in. Our take-away from Cain and Abel is that our relationship with the Lord is ours alone.
Our day-to-day life is not to be held in comparison with any others. Whether it is intentional or subliminal, constantly comparing ourselves to the people on our left and right will kill our creativity, lower our self-esteem, and threaten our ability to flourish. It will also kill our trust in the Lord.
FOMO is exactly that : fear … the opposite of love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” I John 4:18
When we fear missing out on what is available to us and mistrust what the Lord has for us, we have stepped outside the Kingdom. FOMO is attached to torment, doubt, insecurity, and the fear of lack. These things do not belong to us!
Of course, I am not speaking about the natural progression of improving our skills. Do not confuse the ‘fear of missing out’ with doing what is needed to accomplish our given tasks. There is no fear in obedience to the Lord’s leading. There is no fear in the hunger to achieve our dreams.
FOMO will rear its head when it seems that nothing is happening or going right for us, but even then, God is still working for us – not against us – in the background with a ‘good plan’ that always manifests at the right time.
If escaping constant FOMO is difficult for you, pray to break off the spirit of control and the dumb spirit (the one that tries to silence you).
Basically, the answer to my prayer was: Pray and Obey. Ditch FOMO – replace it with love and trust – and enjoy the victory.
Now you could stop reading right here and you’ll have the gist of my thinking, but as I was unpacking this further, the Lord reminded me of something I wrote mid-pandemic, sometime in 2020.
“I’m OK, You’re OK, but We are not OK”
By 2020 weren’t we meant to be living like the Jetsons, or ‘Back to the Future’? But instead the Covid19 era smacked of the totalitarianism of George Orwell’s 1984, with isolation restrictions, surveillance and monitoring in the interest of public safety.
There are two faces of social media’s input into public mental health. On one hand, we are afforded amazing opportunities to connect the public with medical professionals globally. In the neutral zone, social media raises awareness on important issues, with campaigns like ‘RUOK?’, but on the other hand, social media proliferates misinformation through sharing fake news, false memes, conspiracy theories, and the constant portrayal of ‘unreal’ lives. The fear and threat of loss-of-control leads to the reality of that loss.
The benefits of digital life may have been achieved but the harms may have yet to fully appear. Let’s put aside the deception of fake news, effects of long-term screen usage, non-functioning game-addicted adults, snapchat dopamine hits, the dismantling of society in terms of privacy, surveillance, non-critical thinking, non-resilient and non-resistant mental reflection, and the hate-mongering that is divisive… phew! … but turn to what happens internally when we are confronted, nah – bombarded – with social media marketing that aims to drive sales through making us feel we are missing out.
In 2015, Jamie Lauren Keiles ‘grammed’ her depression, writing, “The Instagram economy trades heavily in FOMO and YOLO. Instagram is a platform for people who, if not actively happy, are at least moderately invested in aggregating the happier moments of life. Instagram is largely a platform for unidirectional storytelling and near-passive consumption of other people’s stories.”
Returning to the present, 2023, and despite how much we now know as a society, it seems nothing much has changed. Marketing, that is, the pull into comparing ourselves in someone else’s drive for sales, still rules. I receive messages every day from Christian artists who are caught in the trap of comparison without even realising it.
FOMO is a piece of baggage we must leave behind when we step in front of the canvas. You are not late, or early, you are not too young/old, big/little, hot/cold … you are exactly where you are meant to be, on your own path.
It is time to wake up to the curse of Cain and Abel and eliminate fear from our lives. No more comparison.