I was listening to a podcast “No Stupid Questions” brought to the net, in part, by the people who wrote “Freakonomics” and “Super Freakonomics” (Stephen Dubnar and Steven Levitt). It is part of the Freakonomics Radio podcast group. I was catching up on a episode: “Why Is It So Hard to Be Alone with Our Thoughts.” The podcast does not drown in facts and figures but it provides enough links to consider the topic more deeply – e.g there was a reference to a study by Time Wilson on the topic of reverie. You can read a reported version of the study at Atlantic Magazine: People Prefer Electric Shocks to Being Alone With Their Thoughts. Interesting in what it says about being too connected and what happens when the mobile connection is not available.
In the podcast episode the speakers referred to a “phones down challenge” in which folks are asked to create a YouTube video of themselves or friends leaving their phones alone. Some videos are interesting; lots were painful too watch. But the whole challenge is not simply inter generational. The challenges raises the question of what happens when our primary focus becomes about sharing experiences rather than the experiences themselves?
Last weekend and tomorrow, one of the aims of my homilies has been making space and time in our lives to become more closely connected to God. Maybe the parallel question is what happens when our primary focus comes from going to Mass – and then that primary focus is lost as the week unfolds. Always a challenge – but perhaps even more challenging when we are hyper-connected via our mobile phones. What happens to prayer? What happens to our relationship and connection to Jesus?
During the celebration of The Mass, as a celebrant you see everything….yes, everything! So when I see someone on their phone at Mass, I am hopeful they are following the readings or the music (which we do provide online), but…. I wonder! I remain hopeful…
Anyway, this video by Charlene deGuzman and Miles Crawford asks the question in a secular way – but it is the same question: what happens to personal relationships in the age of hyper connectivity.