Column: Does your technology help or hurt your relationship with God?

Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.
Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Rick Cheek

Recently I heard a young person on a retreat weekend say that it was really nice not having her cellphone with her.

I asked her why. Her reply didn’t really shock me, but it really made me think about how technology and media have taken over our lives.

She said, “For once, I really don’t feel the pressure to have to return a text, a phone call, check my email or see what my friends are doing on Facebook or Twitter.”

We live in a time in which we are constantly being pressured to connect to a virtual reality world with cellphones, video games, TV shows, movies, music or digital distractions that have no lasting value.

A friend of mine took his child to a psychologist to figure out where his bouts of anger were coming from. The doctor’s comment was to take away the video games and constant TV for two weeks, then come back and see him. When he returned, my friend was amazed that his child was acting normal for the first time in a long time. The psychologist didn’t see the need to continue with any further sessions.

Cellphones are not to be left out of the mix when it comes to the use of technology, and I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to keeping up on things. Young people — and older folks as well — are constantly texting back and forth with friends and family and, yes, even family in the same house. I just spent Thanksgiving with my brother and his family in Indiana. This conversation came up one evening. One of my nieces, Emma, last month had sent/received 10,000 texts. Yes that’s right, ten thousand. That’s 333 a day! WOW!! What ever happened to face to face conversations? What ever happened to human interaction? I had to ask her what are her face to face conversations like and how long did they last? It was hard for her to answer.

Some of us ignore things as they really are. A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind and spirit-numbing video and online games, or be so caught up in texting their friends or checking their status or the status of their friends that they may lose sight of reality.

I’m not against using technology as long as it is used for the greater good of our community or to bring you into a deeper relationship with God. God, after all, is the author of all salvation. Jesus is the Christ. He is real and lives and stands at the head of his church and is not a virtual experience.

As we continue our journey through Advent, ask yourself these two questions: Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit in your life? And does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?

Wishing you a blessed Advent season.

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