Tuesday May 3, 2016

The Use and Abuse of Technology

I am one of those people who gets to class far too early, and by that I mean ten minutes early. However, I am rarely the first to arrive; normally there will be a few people more prompt than I who have already made it and are sitting in their unofficial assigned seats. When I enter the room, a head will look up to see who has just come in, but quickly it will fall back to its place, looking down at the dim glow of a phone screen. Following in suit, I take my place, pull out my phone, and pretend to be texting or looking at some important email until a friend also shows up, so I can have someone with whom I can talk.


My phone has become my crutch on which my shyness and social insecurity stand, but I am not alone. Many people my age (and other ages no doubt), share in the awkwardness which comes when you are forced into conversation with someone you have just met. In turn, we avoid such interactions for the quiet safety of our phones or computers. We put up invisible walls of distraction and disinterest, so that we do not become uncomfortable. The result is this: that we dehumanize ourselves and our peers. We do not look to see if someone is upset, if someone is in need of help, or if someone has a joy which they wish to share. We do not let ourselves shine; we allow our fear of looking alone or awkward to overwhelm us. We distract ourselves from the beauty around us, both in our neighbors and in our world.


As Christians, we can both use and abuse technology, and I do not wish to undervalue technology which can be a tremendous tool for evangelization and education. It can broaden our horizons and bring us into contact with people and ideas from across the globe. For Catholic education, technology is part of reaching a new generation who has grown up in a society almost saturated by technology. Vast stores of information, religious and secular, can now be accessed by anyone through technology.  However, technology has its limits, and we must acknowledge those limits. We must take time away from technology to look at the world around us both with awe and criticism, to recognize the humanity in others, and to absorb some of the beauty which surrounds us constantly.


For me, this takes a conscious effort. I go for walks or, if I can, hikes. I spend time in the chapel sitting with my phone put away so I can neither see nor feel it. I eat meals with friends without looking at my phone. Now and then, when I am feeling bold, I look up as people fill the classroom and try to start any conversation I can with someone around me.


How do you take time away from technology? What are places you go to look for beauty? How do you use technology to share your faith? How can it be a hindrance and a help to prayer?


Written by: Joseph Twiner


Edited by: Victoria Schoen

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