FOMO in #iso

Anna Grummitt on experiencing FOMO during isolation, and what hope the Christian story can offer to a society obsessed with productivity.

#Iso began eight weeks ago, and I still haven’t baked a single loaf of sourdough bread.

When it started, I thought this time of forced isolation could finally be my opportunity to beat FOMO – the fear of missing out. Surely, any low-key anxiety I felt about my life not being as fun and successful as others’ would disappear once we all had to #StayAtHome.

I was wrong. My Insta feed has been filled with friends who all seem to be living their best iso lives – learning languages, doing yoga, and baking up a storm. All while still having time for regular walks with their all-too-Instagrammable dogs and Zoom drinks with family and friends.

On Twitter, it’s even worse. I’m constantly ambushed with tweets like “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear” and “No pressure, but Isaac Newton discovered gravity while he was self-quarantined during the plague in the 1600s. Oh, and calculus too. #QuarantineLife.”

With messages like these, it’s easy to feel we’re “missing out” if our experience of isolation hasn’t involved a burst of productivity. But the reality is, a lot of people – parents, essential workers, students, migrants, those struggling with grief or illness, plus many others – are just trying to get through each day.

The relentless pressure to “make the most” of #QuarantineLife proves to be a similar type of pressure that we experience at all times. Human beings are finite and, oftentimes, failures. We long for a hope-filled story that doesn’t rely on “crushing it” at every moment. To this longing, the Christian story puts human beings in fresh perspective – able to achieve much, but also needing space for silence, mourning, healing, and yes, even forgiveness.

Perhaps reflecting on this (and maybe getting off Twitter) is what will truly help me beat FOMO.