How is your desire for ‘virtual connectedness’ these days?

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“If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.” – Pope Benedict XVI (Message for 43rd World Communications Day)

Profoundly insightful on two fronts:

First, our “virtual connectedness” and obsession with the online world sometimes serves more to isolate us from the real world than to more efficiently connect us to it. It can easliy become a distraction, an escape or an excuse for us. Not to mention that, due to our human limitations, “connecting” to something new (this online world) usually means we have to disconnect from something else (in the real world) in order to do it. Have you maintained proper balance in this regard? There are definitely times that I have not.

Second, maybe you are not directly compromising real world connectedness for the sake of virtual connectedness. Maybe you are only getting online during your free time or to kill time or in down time. But it can still be very unhealthy for us. We need down time. It gives us natural times and patterns of “rest, silence and reflection” necessary to live a healthy life. The constancy of our virtual connectedness has stolen much of this down time. It is always on. It’s always there. Always somebody to talk to. Always something to respond to. Always something more to read up on. Always somebody to catch up with.

If we allow it to always be at our fingertips, we risk our rest, silence and reflection time going extinct. Do you see this more and more in yourself and in many around you? I know I do.

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3 comments Add comment

Todd December 17, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Very well put. It certainly is a balancing act to juggle family time, “down time”, leisure time and ‘puter time… especially when trying to make a business of it.

Bill December 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

Social Media/Networking is cold, if not impersonal. Completely void of the warmth of the human touch. Like its television-based counterpart, Reality TV, it has created a generation (or two) of social vegetables – leashed to their PDAs, TVs, laptops, and cell phones in a self-inflicted slavery.

Does it have its purpose? oh, sure. I wouldn’t be reading your article or responding to it otherwise. But like the Holy Father is intimating, it has its place – collectively we need to “Get a Life”…

Great stuff. Keep up the good (God’s) work!

Dean Soto January 14, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I have to disagree with Bill. As with any “Tool” whether it is used for good or evil is determined by the user. Social media is “cold” if we make it cold. But if you use social media to build authentic relationships with like-minded Catholics it can be a very beneficial to the Catholic community as a whole. For example, if I were a Catholic radio host, or television host, and I spent every waking hour creating content at the expense of my family, I would be using these tools wrongly. But nobody in their right mind would argue that Catholic television and radio are bad in themselves. Television is a platform, radio is a platform, and social media is a platform.

Social media is the media. Television and radio are dying, or at least will become far less prominent inf the near future. To ignore it and see it as bad would is exactly the reason why there is so much crap on television. If there is no Catholic presence in social media, then the vacuum will be filled with the secular.

Ironically, in about 30 minutes I will be heading to a local Tweetup to meet some people that I’ve built a relationship with. Catholics everywhere need to wake up (I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, I am just very passionate about it). We need to evangelize everywhere and in every way possible. Social media is a platform just like every other medium (including Catholic conferences), and we can’t sit back and let these battlefields be taken over without a fight (so to speak).

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