To say that the Internet and related technologies have radically changed the way we live our lives and interact with others is perhaps the understatement of the century. The always-on constant communication and instant gratification this provides, especially to young people, has been world-changing. Students who are headed off to college can't remember or even imagine life without Facebook or their smartphones.
And yet, all of these wonderful new technologies haven't brought happiness. Young people (the primary users of these technologies) report less overall satisfaction with their lives than previous generations did, and research indicates an overuse of technology and social media is partly to blame. The endless stream of content has led to endless angst and searching for meaning.
Obviously, in spite of the constant admonitions from the older generations, it isn't practical to expect that we return to the pre-digital age, but it is clear that there are some harmful side effects to the fact that most people spend so much time online.
So what is there to be done? What could possibly mitigate the negative effects of omnipresent technology without destroying the benefits?
The Church, and our Catholic faith, is the perfect antidote to this electronic overload. You don't have to wait on the edge of your seat-Jesus "likes" your posts and pictures unconditionally, and will never unfriend you! The wonderful community we have here at St. Josaphat, especially surrounding Sunday mass, is an old-school social network-and one where the members won't be on their phones whenever the group gets together!
But, more importantly, the underlying tenets of Catholicism serve as helpful counterweights to today's hyperfast world. Taking a few minutes to reflect and talk to God can drown out the pings and the notifications from a phone. Taking time to pray on and be thankful for what we do have can dampen the seemingly insatiable desire for more. Connecting and growing as part of a faith community can ameliorate feelings of loneliness resultant from only talking with people online. Serving and living for others is even more powerful in a world that is becoming more and more self-centered. Hearing the Gospel is far more meaningful and powerful than retweeting any 140-character message.
This is not to say that technology is a bad thing or should be shunned-as a young person, I think that the iPhone is one of God's great gifts, and the ability to stay in touch with so many people is wondrous indeed. It's just to say that there's more to life than status updates. So thank God for all your Facebook friends...then unplug and talk to Him.
Weekend Office Staff
Important Upcoming Dates!
September 9 - Fr. Francis' Installation Mass
September 9 & 10 - Septemberfest