Wedged deeply within the heart of most teenage girls is a disease called FOMO, or, as one might put it, the fear of missing out. To prevent living with this, we connect ourselves to dozens of gadgets – cell phones, laptops, iPads – all of which are connected to – yes, you named it – WiFi. We’re so deeply afraid of missing something, of not being constantly connected, that we are addicted to the technology that connects us to the rest of the world.
So when my internship supervisor told me we would be spending “the weekend” at a camp in the middle of nowhere, I worried a little bit about what I would do about staying connected. After all, this internship wasn’t my only job this summer – I had freelance clients around the world that I needed to stay in touch with. But a weekend was only 2-3 days, right?
What I thought would be a weekend turned into a whole week. We left Friday and came back Wednesday. A whole 5 days without WiFi. It wasn’t that we were just without WiFi, we were actually living in open-air cabins in the middle of nowhere. Imagine the cabins in The Parent Trap. Yeah, that’s what we were living in.
For 5 days, our entire church – kids, teenagers, adults, college kids, and then some – lived alongside each other without TV, cell service, internet, or even air conditioning. We had lost all connection with the outside world.
It was slightly bemusing (though a little sad) to see some of the older teenage girls walking around camp with their phones in search of 3G. They were so desperately searching to find some sort of connection to the world outside of camp, so in need of calming their fears that they were missing out on something better than going to camp.
While watching all of this unfold, a couple of truths were revealed to me:
- While these girls were seeking to get rid of FOMO, they were acually missing out on the joys of camp. How can you possibly connect deeply with your friends if you’re attached to your phone?
- We are so afraid of missing out that we have become addicted to WiFi and our phones, as they keep us connected an informed 24/7.
- Generally, not much happens in 5 days. When I returned home, I checked out all of the news I had missed. In a nutshell, there were a lot of storms, Texas flooded, and the squirrel nest in our front yard fell out of the tree. That’s all I missed.
- Being disconnected is a beautiful thing. We don’t need to be connected 24/7. By being connected to everyone and everything all the time, we are missing out on the beauty of just being able to sit and breathe, of enjoying solitude and silence. It is in the silence that we hear God’s voice, and our technology is a constant source of noise that blocks out the voice of God.