Sunday, January 29, 2012

Breaking the Electronic Chains

I vividly remember going to Confession a couple years ago. I was complaining to the priest about being constantly bored and tired, and how boredom caused me to more easily fall into certain temptations. I also complained about how I was watching too much TV and spending too much time in front of the computer.
His response was blunt: “Get off the computer, get off the television set! Go out and do something! Become an interesting person!”
I have since tried to take that priest’s sage advice to heart. The best way to avoid temptation is to avoid the nearer occasion of sin. And the best way to avoid the nearer occasion of sin is to occupy the mind and body in worthwhile pursuits. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” is an eminently true aphorism. 
But far too often, many people today destroy themselves by spending excessive time in front of electronic devices. By staring at electronic devices their whole lives, they neglect the world - the real world - around them.
This is not to say that electronic devices are evil. Television, computers, iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and other electronic marvels are wonderful tools, if used correctly. They connect people who live thousands of miles away from each other.
But electronics are merely tools of communication, and should not be the sole source of communication we have. For a person who can only communicate through electronics is lonely indeed.
For the electronic world is in reality a shadow world. Televisions reduce their viewers to inert objects, viewing a world they cannot change. Computers create a world where one appears to be master of an alternate reality. Telephones connect people to far-off voices and sunder connections with neighbors.  
Electronic devices merely give the illusion of connection. Facebook posts, Twitter hits, e-mails, and other electronic methods of communication give people the illusion of being connected to others - and can and do distract from real connection.
So please, if you are reading this post after a marathon session of staring at a screen, get off the computer, call a friend, say a prayer, do something productive. The shadow world of electronics is alluring – but toxic to those who live in it forever.

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