I received an email from a mom last week, saying: “Our home has become entangled in technology and I wanted some advice. My teenage girls we seem to have lost from our family in their phones and I find myself at 47 years old to be nearly as much of an addict as they. Although I’d say that my reasons for being at a screen are more serious than theirs. But are we really any different? I find myself living outside my home in a virtual life and it’s harder and harder to get back. I hate that I feel like it’s just the way it is. I just give in and rationalize. I know it’s not right…”
Last weekend, I was reading an article on marriage and family life that referenced the below quote from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. Then on Monday I was joking with a young man about how out of touch I was with the seemingly infinite conversations sounding in the ethereal digital world of social media, and then he said with grave seriousness, “Yeah, and then there’s how out of touch I am with the real world around me. I think mine’s worse than yours.” And THEN on Tuesday someone sent me a YouTube parody that seemed to form a complete set.
So, with no attempt at commentary, I will just share the quote and the video.
Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches.
True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.
Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise. — Pope Francis