Bloggingheads: The Digital Age and God.
What is the effect of the digital age on our relationship with God? Does technology get in the way of faith? Will Twitter set us on the path of virtual religion? Can Facebook lead to a spiritual experience? What about the need to pray vs. our desire to check our email? Does God want us to silence our cell phones? Are trolls Satan's commenters? Check out Bill McGarvey and I go head to head on Blogginheads.com
James Martin, S.J.
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Mainly I listened because this topic of online communing and spirituality interests me personally. Being an introvert and a geek, I have spent a lot of time online these past 15-20 years. I have built a consulting business around online work. But I also dare to call myself a "contemplative" - and I have deep needs for solitude and silence. I can literally feel the reality of the immediate world around me permeate my consciousness when I pull the plug - the smells, the sounds, the sights. (some may call this "prayer" or "god"). I KNOW that I have to balance this online world with a disciplined turning away for periods of my day.
I don't think that you can emphasize enough that immediate relationships and conversations HAVE to take precedent over online, "virtual" ones. Online, virtual relationships are tricky and frought with a lot of projection. The online friend becomes what you want or think them to be, whereas the immediate (real) relationships tend to be messier. When these challenging, right-next-to-me relationships are ignored while one diverts attention to the online relationship, not only are opportunities for real spiritual growth are missed, but one's perception of reality itself become compromised.
Sometimes, looking up from a computer and out the just out the window can be a breakthrough in awareness for me.
All that being said, it's clear that online communication is here to stay. The younger people take it all for granted. They don't know a world without it. How this will affect evolving contemplative awareness, I don't know. How will the next generation pray? Will they pull the plug, periodically, like I do? Or will some different kind of awareness evolve, something like Marshall McLuhan's ideas of "everything happening now"? It's a very interesting question.