Bishop Robert Barron has a wonderfully fresh perspective on social media and its use. See here and here. He criticizes the technology sharply, but he also embraces its more positive characteristics, even to the point of celebrating it as a spiritual phenomenon.

But is it really possible to use social media well? Can one be on social media without impacting one’s moral or spiritual life? There are a few challenges to the good use of social media that are worth highlighting, especially vis-a-vis Pope Francis’ comments in Christus Vivit and Gaudete et Exsultate. In particular, social media can have significantly harmful impacts when it comes to our prayer, our pride, and our “pathos.”

Bishop Barron’s videos linked above aren’t brand new, but, of course, they do highlight a number of the challenges that Catholics face when using social media, how it can quickly devolve into bitterness, how it is addicting, and how it can isolate groups from one another. In his videos, he offers some practical support and guidance to people looking to use social media more prudently.

Pope Francis, in Christus Vivit, speaks in mixed terms about social media. He devotes four paragraphs entirely to the “web and social networks.” He understands that the internet can provide an opportunity for “dialogue, encounter, and exchange,” along with many other political and social benefits, but he also notes that, “[i]t is not healthy to confuse communication with mere virtual contact.” In the Pope’s vision, social media is a tool and mission ground, but it has a much darker side. Quoting the final synod document, Pope Francis writes:

The digital environment is also one of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence, even to the extreme case of the ‘dark web’. Digital media can expose people to the risk of addiction, isolation and gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships. New forms of violence are spreading through social media, for example cyberbullying. The internet is also a channel for spreading pornography and the exploitation of persons for sexual purposes or through gambling

If God only calls us to do what leads us to greater holiness, then the question must be asked, are you and I called to be on social media? Is it part of God’s plan for us to be on social media as much as we are? If it impacts our prayer lives, worsens our pride, or makes us numb to the real pain and suffering in our communities, then, it would seem, we are not so called.

Prayer

There is a near-perfect reverse analogy between the saint who prays and the man who spends all his days on social media. The saint is devoted entirely to the Word of God; the social-media man is devoted entirely to his own words. The saint is concerned about his own failings; the social-media man is concerned about the failings of others. The saint’s life is filled with silence; the social-media man’s life is filled with excitement, noise, and emotion.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that the use of social media is inherently incompatible with a healthy prayer life. Yet, as Bishop Barron noted in his videos, social media is designed to be addictive. We come back to it, minute after minute, day after day. If the first thing you do in the morning is check your phone, Bishop Barron suggested, then you have a problem. Francis also wrote:

The same distractions that are omnipresent in today’s world also make us tend to absolutize our free time, so that we can give ourselves over completely to the devices that provide us with entertainment or ephemeral pleasures. As a result, we come to resent our mission, our commitment grows slack, and our generous and ready spirit of service begins to flag. This denatures our spiritual experience. Can any spiritual fervour be sound when it dwells alongside sloth in evangelization or in service to others?

St. Paul said to “pray always”. For the Christian, “pray always” is no metaphor. All our activity throughout the day can be permeated by the love of God, but this requires, in the words of Pope Francis, a “habitual openness to the transcendent.” In little decisions or big decisions, in our work or leisure, God is speaking to us and working within us to bring us into his divine life. This is true for all Christians.  But of course, in order to pray, we must listen:

Trust-filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence. […] Unless we listen, all our words will be nothing but useless chatter.

Does social media distract us? Does it keep us from prayerful listening? Because of social media, it is so hard to listen to the voice of God, even when we want to listen. Francis writes:

The gift of discernment has become all the more necessary today, since contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good. All of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend.

As Pope Francis suggests, instead of being keyed into the voice of God, we are bombarded with “immense possibilities” and “passing trends” that keep us engaged with the world instead of firmly entrenched in the loving presence of God. The challenge for social-media users is to not let the distractions and addictiveness of social media crowd God out of our lives.   

Pride

Bishop Barron and Brandon Vogt discuss a lot of particular problems with social media, including the phenomena of scapegoating and group polarization. Social media platforms are not only designed to keep us coming back for more, but also to give us more of what we like to see, ensuring that whatever might really cause us to change our views are presented to us, more or less, on our terms. Pope Francis wrote:

The way many platforms work often ends up favouring encounter between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate. These closed circuits facilitate the spread of fake news and false information, fomenting prejudice and hate.

In very practical ways, this can numb us to the fact that, in reality, God is constantly challenging us, calling us out of our present sinfulness, to live in the freedom of his love and truth. On this point, Pope Francis said:

We must remember that prayerful discernment has to be born of an openness to listening – to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways. Only if we are prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas.

Also built into these social media programs is the concept of “liking,” “retweeting,” and “sharing”. In short, social media caters to our pride insofar as we say things in order to be recognized. I see in Francis’ words on the beatitudes a very real critique of how I have been using social media:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”

These are strong words in a world that from the beginning has been a place of conflict, disputes and enmity on all sides, where we constantly pigeonhole others on the basis of their ideas, their customs and even their way of speaking or dressing. Ultimately, it is the reign of pride and vanity, where each person thinks he or she has the right to dominate others. Nonetheless, impossible as it may seem, Jesus proposes a different way of doing things: the way of meekness. This is what we see him doing with his disciples. It is what we contemplate on his entrance to Jerusalem: “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey” (Mt 21:5; Zech 9:9).

Of course, we are all familiar too with how certain tweets and facebook posts are nothing else than attempts to bring others down. The worst part is that we do it–I did it–because we know that they are among our most liked and shared posts. Few people on social media want to see someone thinking through an issue carefully and speaking to and about our enemies in love and humility, but this is precisely what we are called to do as Christians. In fact, Bishop Barron relates a story of what happens when do speak charitably: people are converted!

Pope Francis wrote:

Needless to say, anything done out of anxiety, pride or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness.

When we choose to do something because of the attention it will bring us and not because we have discerned it is the will of God, we have sinned.  

Pathos

Finally, one other challenge to social media use is, of course, virtue signaling. Bishop Barron has discussed this phenomenon in a variety of topics, including in his videos dedicated to social media. Virtue signaling harms the integrity of the moral life because we can feel like we’re doing something about a significant problem, but in actuality, we’re doing nothing and it costs us nothing.

Pope Francis said:

Digital spaces blind us to the vulnerability of another human being and prevent us from our own self-reflection. […] For many people, immersion in the virtual world has brought about a kind of “digital migration”, involving withdrawal from their families and their cultural and religious values, and entrance into a world of loneliness and of self-invention, with the result that they feel rootless even while remaining physically in one place.

Social media and its virtuality can suck the joy out of our lives and zaps our energy to do real good in our communities, for the poor and homeless, for those in desperate need to hear the Gospel. The key, Bishop Barron said, is to be on social media “in love,” not in a sentimental way but truly willing the good of the other, remembering always that there is a real person behind those words we read.

Conclusion

Social media does have its virtues. Pope Francis shows how social media can be an important part of the lives of young people, explicitly connecting social media with mission. That is to say, Francis extols social media to the extent that is helps young people to build up community and evangelize. He writes:  

As for outreach, I trust that young people themselves know how best to find appealing ways to come together. They know how to organize events, sports competitions and ways to evangelize using social media, through text messages, songs, videos and other ways. They only have to be encouraged and given the freedom to be enthused about evangelizing other young people wherever they are to be found.

Also:

Young people can find new fields for mission in the most varied settings. For example, since they are already so familiar with social networks, they should be encouraged to fill them with God, fraternity and commitment.

Are you called to use social media? Maybe, maybe not. Admittedly, if one simply stops using social media, there would not be many tangible benefits. It’s not so much the lack of social media that is good, but rather what one does in the time instead, what vices one works to overcome, and what virtues one works on building up.

One thing that is clear, for both Francis and Bishop Barron, is that our social media is in desperate need of God. As Christians, we must go to where the people are, and they are on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Provided that we can live out our call to charity and we are not harmed by the practice, the Church–meaning you and me–must minister to people even there.

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar M. says:

    So so good. The quotes from Pope Francis are so motivating! My little girl said “Mom, even kids can understand what he is saying, he’s so direct and clear!”
    I think with social media the words of Matthew 5:29 are helpful. Our screens have certainly become our false gods, or at best a near yet sometimes, necessary, occasion of sin.

    • Avatar ONG says:

      Hi, M., Brothers and Sisters…

      Don’t know if you saw my other post today about LSN, but here’s another fresh shameful attack from the Accuser:

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-heresy-idUSKCN1S73KE

      • Avatar Marie says:

        I read part of it but I could not continue. I know we must be kind and understanding, but it gets to the point that this is so ego driven it is insane. I can’t even attend the March for Life in Ottawa anymore, knowing it is run by Campaign Life Coalition/ Lifesite News. Thirty years of holding on to the reins and this is the result. What a shame, and what an absolute disgrace. Even being pro life is tainted by these people.

      • Avatar Marthe Lépine says:

        So I am not the only one having reservations about the March for Life in Ottawa, for the same reasons as yours… This makes me fell better about it, but it is still unfortunate.

      • Avatar carn says:

        Bad news.

        From first causual reading of their letter, i think they have insufficient evidence to prove their accusation and/or do not provide sufficient arguments why what they present is sufficient evidence.

        And bad news source, cause what reuters writes there seems to be that the journalists did not understand the letter and the text of reuters is not adequate so that based on reuters alone one would have a good idea what the letter is about. For example: “The letter attacks”; that is rather bad wording; the letter tries to meet the criteria for a statement of claim as a prosecutor would sent to a court in preparation of some trial; nobody would say that the prosecutor “attacks” the defendent with the statement of claim; the prosecutor tries to lay down what the crimes of the defendent supposedly are and what evidence there is; this is also what that letter does (although as i said above, i am scpetical how well the letter does this), accordingly “attacks” and similar wording is bad wording.

        Better read the own summary of the authors to understand what their letter is about and its intent.

      • Avatar Marie says:

        This is starting to remind me of those cases where people stay together, married, yet are so dysfunctional, and cause so much damage to the children who must witness it. Those who believe in ’til death do us part’, yet have little or no respect for marriage itself. I wonder, if a separation is not better, rather than to stand by and witness these attacks, and watch the destruction within the Church, unable to stop it. Unlike a divorce, a separation stops or lessens the abuse, and better protects those who are torn between the two, or who have little say in the matter. It also stays open to unification if one changes, and ‘sees the light’. These behind the scenes actors are feeding the demons within, if some comments on social media are any indication.

        I doubt our Holy Father will address this, as he teaches it is best to be silent, and reflect, rather than take part in the cesspool of gossip and innuendo. It is almost unbearable to imagine his suffering in the name of our Lord. Does it even dawn on these dissenters, even for a second, “what if I’m wrong?” That alone truly upsets me, for honestly, if they are wrong, and from my perspective it is obvious they are, how will they explain their actions before Christ? How can they possibly find this acceptable?

        The intent of the letter is clear Carn, they want the Pope out, and their form of Catholicism in, so they can remain ‘the faithful Catholics’, and no one can challenge their ideology. I’m angry about it because they are leading people astray, but I feel bad that they have allowed their egos to blind them and close their hearts.

        There is no question, that social media is affecting our lives. I had little to do with it until about a year ago, with purposely only about 20 family/ friends on Facebook. This instant access to attacks and character assassinations keeps the head spinning. I’m certainly limiting my views online, as it does take away from our peaceful moments, prayer and self reflection.

      • Avatar carn says:

        “The intent of the letter is clear Carn, they want the Pope out, and their form of Catholicism in, so they can remain ‘the faithful Catholics’, and no one can challenge their ideology.”

        I usually stick with prescribing intent according to what someone claims is his intent.

        They claim their intent is that the Pope is denounced for being guilty of heresy and that ideally the Pope repents to have committed heresy. Accordingly, they themselves do not knowingly act out of the intent to have “their form of Catholicism in”, but to combat the spread and promulgation of supposedly non-catholic heresies.

        Maybe they are delusional in so far that you are correct that they are not defending catholicism, but just their personal ideology and mistake that for catholicism; but their intent would still be to defend catholicism.

        “Those who believe in ’til death do us part’, yet have little or no respect for marriage itself.”

        The usual approach to handle a marriage in danger of splitting up would to make last attempts to talk to each other and see if things cannot be changed into some good direction. That would include both sides having willingness to talk to each other, to discuss how one perceives the other side, to describe what one thinks the other side and oneself has to do differently to change the situation and – here it gets tricky – to honestly answer the questions of the other side regarding the own motives.

        Saving a marriage by being silent about accusations that supposedly one is doing something wrong AND continue to do exactly what the partner claims is wrong, would in my view be not a good way to save a marriage or even try to handle a separation with the least damage possible.

        Saving a marriage normally requires even accepting guilt although one thinks one is guilty of little or nothing.

        So i am a bit suprised that you see it as similar to a dysfunctional marriage and yet think that silence is the best approach.

        “Does it even dawn on these dissenters, even for a second, “what if I’m wrong?””

        Good question – for all parties involved.

      • Avatar M. says:

        Christ is risen!
        It seems clear to me that this letter is an attempt to gather bishops who will be faithful and obedient to these laypersons, and if successful, will lead to a formal schism something like SSPX- or, perhaps they will join with SSPX, although I doubt it because then they would not need their own bishops. Also union of any kind is not generally the objective in schismatic behaviors.

      • Avatar ONG says:

        That kind of journalism is sly and irresponsibly deceitful — and now this will surely be the new scoop in the following days.

        It coincides also with Pope Francis’ visit to Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia (May 5-7).

        Worth noticing, LSN posted Viganò’s letter while Pope Francis was visiting Ireland… apparently to distract from following with it.

        Then on the return flight everyone knew of it already, and out of the press conference they started building the next scoop: “Francis refuses to answer…”

        The “good press” instead has been focusing on the historical and relevant notions behind the upcoming visit.

        Comments on YouTube continue as usual, and when one encounters the “trolls” it’s better to answer shortly and quickly, and even not answering at all.

        So I too have followed Marie’s
        advice and have tried to stay away from the distracting and gossiping websites. 😉

      • Avatar Marie says:

        Carn- regarding “what if I’m wrong?”” I have asked myself that, but it keeps coming back to “Lord, you promised that there would be no error in faith and morals, and to follow the pope, so I have/did” What would the others say? “Lord, I know you promised no errors in faith and morals, but I knew better so I……”

        As far as marriage, of course attempts to understand must be made, but both must be willing. As is the case with the attacks on Pope Francis, I have seen no effort at dialogue whatsoever. The Pope does not comment on personal attacks directed towards him, but has always expressed favour and support of dialogue between differing sides and points of view. As well, as the letter indicates, once again, speculation is all that is needed. A satanic symbol ? not speaking out enough on abortion? Hanging out with the wrong crowd? Yet you give them a free pass and accuse Pope Francis of ‘confusion. Their intent is always pure, and driven by, at best, their love of the Church, and at worst, simply misguided, but never by selfishness or false pride. The Pope however, well he always has an ulterior motive. I genuinely just don’t get it.

      • Avatar carn says:

        @Marie:
        “The Pope does not comment on personal attacks directed towards him, but has always expressed favour and support of dialogue between differing sides and points of view.”

        If someone considers questions about his own position already as a form of personal attack, dialogue is difficult at best.

        I am not aware of any attempt for dialogue by Pope Francis or anyone in “Team Francis” that did not include ridicule, condemnation, speculation and/or clear falsehoods/strawmen.

        At least Cardinal Müller seems to have from what i can observe made attempts at dialogue. And the dubia are in my view also an attempt at dialogue, cause a “What exactly is your position on …?” is usually an attempt at dialogue.

        “Yet you give them a free pass”

        In case you didn’t notice, i commented the accusation of heresy with “bad news” and i voiced doubt about the letter being of sufficient legal quality from what i gathered from a first casual reading. Let me add to that my more nuanced opinion now that i have read it once more:

        You …….! How can you be so lazy and stupid? You are accusing a REIGNING POPE for HERESY and you just present a LOUSY 20 PAGES with arguments/evidence and some of them of the “he was nice to …” type and of the “he didn’t say Luther is burning in the eternal flame” type?

        Shame on you! Heresy for a Pope is like murder for anyone else; murderers – especially in less than simple cases, especially in cases spanning across several years (which this one would be in a sense) – get usually more than 20 pages (i found one case with 480 pages).

        If Pope Francis is a heretic, that letter helped him a lot, cause unsubstantiated accusations of a crime make it easier to hide the actual crime.

        If Pope Francis isn’t a heretic, that letter is an injustice to him.

        And as witness that i am not baking that up in my own mind i can refer to Edward Peters:
        https://twitter.com/canonlaw/status/1123564632197799937

        “If popes could be prosecuted for NEGLIGENCE in office (c. 1389), which they can’t be, the Easter Week Open Letter would serve as solid indictment. As a brief for HERESY (cc. 751, 1364)—which is, indirectly but seriously, sustainable against popes—it’s less compelling. More later.”

        That is a lot more harsh indictment of the letter than mine; a canon lawyer tells them that their argument does not fit the crime they want to prove, but would only prove a different crime for which the accused cannot be prosecuted.

        If someone had paid a lawyer for writing that, he should consider asking his money back.

        I guess i should post that at LSN.

        Happy now?

        “and accuse Pope Francis of ‘confusion. Their intent is always pure”

        Their intent is not the problem, it seems their competence, especially at canon law, is.

        And i do think that Pope Francis intent is to ensure that no one, who might receive the sacraments and be helped by them, is barred from them due to superfluous and/or wrongly and/or too narrowly applied rules. It is in my view just the problem that he is following in part ideas of Cardinal Kasper, who lacks in my view competence AND that Pope Francis has a general mistrust of lawer-like persons – which in combination in my view causes there to be some problematic wordings AND the people capable to amend that only finding closed papal ears.

        If Pope Francis had laid out to Cardinal Müller what his intent is and ordered Müller to warn him whenever his opening the door to the sacraments might go too far (and lead to contradiction or other problems) and then heed that warnings, he might have been a wonderful Pope.

        He is in my view like a politician with good intentions, but who turns that good intentions into bad law cause he sees the legal nitpickers who try to warn him about problems in his proposed laws only as political enemies who want to keep him from making the world a better place.

  2. Avatar Fet Bustard says:

    What does Pope Francis mean when he says: “This denatures our spiritual experience”? I asked my two-year old and she doesn’t understand.

    • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

      Seems a strange question to ask a two-year-old.

    • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

      In reality, the term “denatures” just means to take something and make it unpalatable, like when we take God’s free gift of mercy and place conditions on it, saying “you have to do xyz to be forgiven.”

      • Avatar M. says:

        Christ is risen! I think he was referring to my daughter’s comment I told, about how even kids can understand the pope. My kids can’t understand every word he says, but they are able to get to the heart of it, and understand that the pope is saying “Trust God and repent!” But then, they are not two year olds… 😉 Admittedly, that might be a bit more difficult!

  3. Avatar June says:

    I ran, not walked, from social media after watching Cal Newport’s TED talk on the subject. Most of us are definitely not called to social media.

  4. Avatar carn says:

    I have further witness to add for my harsh indictment of the heresy-letter writers failing fundamentally:

    http://m.ncregister.com/60439/b

    Jimmy Akin describes well how the argument structure would have to be for proving heresy:

    “The Open Letter has many other flaws, but its chief one is that it fails to make the case that the present pope is guilty of heresy. To do that, it would need to show the following:

    The Magisterium has infallibly defined some specific truth
    It has infallibly defined that this specific truth is divinely revealed, creating a dogma
    The pope has been baptized (that’s easy)
    The pope’s words or actions indicate that he refuses to believe the dogma
    His words or actions cannot be understood in a way consistent with the dogma
    He does so obstinately

    If you can’t do those things, then don’t waste the public’s time.”

    The text by the way is a good read to understand how legal arguments regarding guilt in general have to be done.

    One has some law which in case certain requirements are fulfilled, then there is some consequence (e.g. prison, etc.).

    And what prosecutors, judges and so on MUST do, is check each of the requirements, whether the evidence indicates that is fulfilled or not.

    No matter how small, irrelevant, obvious or stupid a requirement might be, one MUST write down, why it is fulfilled.

    Therefore Akin correctly notes, that one requirement for heresy is that the suspect must have been baptized. A non-baptized person can do ANYTHING and will NEVER be guilty of heresy, cause this requirement will never be met.

    And even if it seems absolutely ridiculous, if one wants to accuse someone of heresy, one has to waste a sentence noting which evidence shows that the suspect has been baptized.

    Which means, yes, it sounds absolutely bizarre, but if you want to accuse a Pope of heresy, your arguments must include some words about why on can be certain that the accused Pope was baptized (which for example might be done by refering to the laws about Papal election, which i think require that the one voted for is among other things baptized; therefore Akin says its easy- one just cites the norm and notes that the accused was validly elected Pope and therefore was baptized).

    If you do not do that, shame on you, you failed as a lawyer (and if you are no lawyer and therefore cannot fail at being one – why don’t you employ one? your are accusing a POPE – get expertise if you do not have it yourself).

    And i can attest that this approach – check requirements and methodically work along all of them, arguing for each, why it is fulfilled – is at least in Germany exactly the same way and is to some extent also this way in several other European countries and in the US and in China and in Japan. So the thought process laid down by Akin is something one encounters regularly in law.

  5. Avatar Christopher Lake says:

    It is possible to use social media well, for the glory of God, in Christ-honoring ways. Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have both spoken about this and have encouraged Catholics to use social media in this way. With that said, from what I have seen, of the *ever-increasing, basically addictive* use of social media among so many people, I strongly think that one of the ways to use social media well must be to use it *sparingly*– which means, at the very least, not being on our phones so constantly that we are virtually shutting ourselves off from the people around us *in-person*, and, at times, even putting ourselves and them in literal physical danger.

    I’ll explain what I mean by that last sentence above. More and more, in the time that I spend, in-person, with even certain people with whom I am emotionally close, I notice that they seemingly *cannot* stay off of their phones (constantly checking Facebook and e-mail, constantly responding to texts, constantly looking things up on the internet), even when we are talking or watching a movie together! Is this normal? Is it healthy? It seems neither normal nor healthy to me, but it is becoming more and more *usual*, from what I’m experiencing.

    Here is another example, in terms of social media addiction actually putting people in physical danger. I use a wheelchair for most of my daily life, and I cannot count the number of times that I have been riding on a sidewalk and/or attempting to cross a street, and people in close proximity to me have been so engrossed in looking down at their phone that they have either literally run into me, or, I have had to take such extreme measures *not to run into them, because they weren’t even noticing that I was there,* that I actually ended putting myself, ironically, in physical danger! This is not hyperbole at all. This is daily life for me now whenever I go out alone in my wheelchair. It is possible to use social media well, in God-honoring ways, but what I’m experiencing, due to the widespread failure to *even be aware of other people, due to being engrossed in social media*, is not God-honoring and is truly dangerous.

    I try to mitigate my own use of social media. I could do more to mitigate it, but I have taken certain steps that seem extreme to some people. I left Facebook two years ago. I don’t own an iPhone or an Android by choice. Years ago, I finally gave in and bought a cell phone, but in 2019, to the increasing amazement and gentle needling of even some of my loved ones, I refuse to have a cell phone which has the internet on it. For me, the reasons are simple. I already spend too much time on the internet at home on my computer. I know that I do. I live alone, and it’s a daily battle *not* to spend too much time on it when I’m at home. Especially in that light, I don’t want to spend *yet more time* on the internet when I am out and about in the world, *especially* to the point that I am literally unaware of, or oblivious to, other people and possibly even putting them in danger.
    Also, as a Catholic, how can I be open and ready to evangelize the people who are literally physically around me, if I am so engrossed in what is on my phone that I am oblivious to their very presence?

    Of course, it’s possible to have the internet on one’s phone and not become *addicted* to constantly using it to the point of ignoring, or not being aware of, other people. It’s possible– but from what I increasingly see, when I am with certain loved ones, *and* when I am out alone in the world, it may not be *easy*. It’s a spiritual battle, and I wish that, at the very least, more Christians in the U.S. understood it as such and fought it on that level. Daily American life might look very, very different, if that were the case.

    • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

      I love your considerations here and truly I wish everyone were as thoughtful. I have been tempted to get a “dumb phone” but haven’t yet made the switch. I have removed basically all “addicting” apps from it though. Except duolingo.. can’t seem to stop using that one!

      • Avatar Christopher Lake says:

        Daniel,

        Youtube is the place where I admit that I spend *far* too much time. It’s not easy, at times, living alone, and I turn to Youtube too often to deal with loneliness– though, in doing so, I have learned that there is a lot of great Catholic content there! 🙂 Still, I watch Youtube videos too much, too often, and I need to take that to God and fight that battle more seriously.

        If you ever do get a “dumb phone,” believe me, be prepared for at least some people to treat you as either a dinosaur, or, possibly, crazy! I am coming to take their ridicule and/or lack of comprehension of my unusual choice as part of my training for Sainthood (even if I don’t get that far with it in this life)! 🙂

      • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

        Just happened to read this from the Pope’s homily for today:

        “We have become accustomed to eating the stale bread of disinformation and ending up as prisoners of dishonour, labels and ignominy. We thought that conformism would satisfy our thirst, yet we ended up drinking only indifference and insensitivity. We fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real.”

        http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190507_omelia-macedoniadelnord.html

      • Avatar Christopher Lake says:

        Thank you for sharing those powerful and sobering words from the Pope!

      • Avatar Marie says:

        Thank you Daniel and Christopher. There is no doubt that we struggle for quiet peaceful time, as we race both with distractions of our own, and those of daily living which require our attention. It is painful to know that you have been blessed with the truth, yet battle to settle down and really absorb it all, and better act on it. His homily strikes a chord. I know I personally have to try a lot harder.

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