Facebook, Television, or Other?
Heading to the desert...?
This is a difficult thing to do these days as we are so accustomed to getting instant information and being connected to anything and everything.
I love the thought of simplifying our lives and homes...And also our souls for Lent. I don't know about you but sometimes the input is more than I can bare.
I've been dreaming about UNplugging from some of my Internet usage ever since I read this beautiful article from our Holy Father about silence as an essential part of communication. He delivered this message as part of World Communications Day, 2012. Here is how it begins:
On this "World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved".
I've been holding off until Lent as it seemed like a natural time to make the break...
I don't Twitter or use Pinterest so I'm going "Faceless" as I've heard the term used for giving up Facebook.
Having access to all of my favorite Catholic news sources and favorite blogs is definitely my favorite thing about Facebook. It still amazes me that we have access to such wonderful information but at the same time, I also find myself getting saturated with a little too much news and stuff to read. Speaking for myself, it has become overwhelming, as of late, and time consuming, to say the least...
I was thinking maybe it was "just me"... Until I read these
words of the Holy Father help to explain why this is:
"The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. ... Indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive".
This really spoke to me as I know that I have definitely felt bombarded with information that I have never thought much about before.
This helped seal the deal...My brain needs a rest and so does my soul.
However, the questions I DO have about the "social" part of Social Networking never DO really get answered. Do you ever get that notion? So I'm going out on a limb here, just like the tallest limb in that tree photo...
One of my questions is regarding the false friendships that exist in the Facebook world. Don't get me wrong, I have some lovely friends but somehow they get caught up in the murky waters behind the ones that aren't so nice. Do you ever just want to go through your list and hack away?
Is it just me or do you have a few friends (in real life) that act like you don't exist on Facebook? I just don't get it. These are people I know well, who live close by, but they just don't act like they know I'm there...They might even dance around me but just choose to ignore, even when you make a constant effort to interact with them. What would you make of a "friend" like this?
Then I ask myself the question...Why wouldn't one of your "real friends" want to encourage you, support you? And most importantly,
why am I starting to wonder who my "real friends" are? This is ridiculous.
Then there's friends that I haven't been in touch with for years who pop up out of nowhere on Facebook...I have one of those friends who I love dearly and I was so excited when I got her "friend request." Since then, I've left her many notes and messages but nothing is ever returned, no reply, nothing, nada. What's that supposed to mean?
Doesn't "social networking" imply that you want to have conversation?
Obviously, I'm spending too much time thinking about things when I should be praying in silence somewhere and contemplating the important questions in life, as the Holy Father suggests. I'm banning myself to the desert!
Yet how do we avoid these "other questions"?
I could go on with a battery of questions, trying to understand many aspects of social networking, while having a sneaky feeling that I never will.
Is all of this putting me in a place to sin?
This is the part that concerns me...The constant test of charity can be draining. Boy, this is starting to feel like Confession!
Well, our dear Holy Father must have seen me coming with my restless questioning of superficial interactions that are driving me crazy!
"Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of sceptical opinions and experiences of life - all of us are in search of truth".
"Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: 'As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by His silence"
Meaning and hope...That's what I'm talking about! There you go, finally an answer to all of the questioning, regardless of what the questions are about. Making more space for silence and occasion for prayer is obviously in order. He goes on...
"If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. ... In speaking of God's grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation 'to communicate that which we have seen and heard' so that all may be in communion with God".
How beautiful is that?
"In silent contemplation, then, the eternal Word, through Whom the world was created, becomes ever more powerfully present and we become aware of the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing throughout our history by word and deed. ... This plan of salvation culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. He has made known to us the true face of God the Father and by His Cross and Resurrection has brought us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom of the children of God. The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church's mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.
"Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelisation: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church's work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today's world".
There is so much to think and pray about here in these powerful words of our Pope, isn't there? The whole article just filled my spirit. Yet I wonder... Where and how can I ever begin to heed his advice with all of my imperfections?Talk about a balancing act... Once again, a restless question rises with an answer that must lie somewhere within... and not online.
I have a feeling that contemplation about all of this and stepping back a bit will be a good thing for me. I need a little bit of work on those listening skills too so I think my Lenten work is cut out for me:)
I have to note that my blog posts are connected to my Family At The Foot of the Cross Facebook Page automatically. I don't know how to disconnect those, even though I'm not logging on to Facebook? They might continue to appear even though I'm not logging on. I'm not going to worry about it too much as I will continue to blog right here in this little space. I do find meaning and hope, here among friends.
Peace for this restless human heart sounds perfect right about now! Wishing anyone who visits here a blessed Lenten journey...May it be a fruitful period of reflection and spiritual growth for your precious soul.