[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e live in a world of instant gratification— we are so connected through technology, we are disconnected from reality. Prince Ea says, “I’m so tired of performing in the pageantry of vanity, and conforming to this accepted form of digital insanity”. But how do we begin to change this culture of 24/7 screen time? How do we stop hiding behind our screens and begin to live in the way in which we were created?
As a college student, I have found that pulling out your phone or computer is like an invisible cloak. It has the ability to ward off any conversation or interaction with anyone and everyone around you.
Take any college dining hall for example. What percentages of students are on their phones during any given meal? Even at a table full of friends you can find half of them disengaged from reality and engrossed in their phone. But honestly, whom are we talking to if all of our friends are sitting next to us? Why does a small lull in the conversation merit everyone to reach into his or her pocket and grab the invisible cloak?
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It is almost as if our screen has become a shield in defense against true encounter. It is easy to get caught up in creating a virtual world for ourselves that we literally can forget about the physical one around us. We become less present to reality and when we are constantly bombarded with everyone’s virtually perfect life on any given social media site we can forget that it is normal and okay to suffer. We can forget how to be real with each other.
But let’s be practical here, giving up technology all together is not a solution to this problem because technology can be used for good. Having a phone, a computer and being connected through social media, games, or whatever it is, is not bad and does need to be purged completely from our lives. However, we are responsible for learning how to use these things so that they do not begin to use us.
Professor Eugene Gan’s book Infinite Bandwidth Encountering Christ in the Media is a great outline and guide as to how the Church calls us to use and understand the media:
Well what does that really mean? To be Catholic is to be fully alive. Simply, the media we use needs to facilitate in this. If media begins to draw us out of reality and causes us to care more about how we appear to others than how we actually are, than it is doing us a disservice. Every form of media can and should be used in an appropriate way that helps us to live more fully alive.
I will leave you with some questions and suggestions to ask yourself and others…
How do I use media? In what ways does it help me to be more fully alive? In what ways does it draw me out of reality? How can I use media in a more balanced way?
How do those around me use media and how can I help them to use it in a better way?
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