Sunday, August 12, 2012

Truth, Justice, and Texting With My Son

Not long ago, I ran into an op-ed with a familiar attitude toward information technology.  Today's youth, the fellow said, are socially isolated.

He painted a moving word-picture of a family's lonely children, texting each other from different rooms.

I sympathize with the fellow who expressed those concerns. He's got a point: face-to-face communication is important.

On the other hand - - -

Father-Son Texting

I exchanged text messages with my son yesterday afternoon. I was at my desk, he was in his office at the other end of the house. We discussed an upcoming birthday.

It's not unusual for my son and some daughters to be holding a silent text 'conversation' - with one of them in another town. Yesterday afternoon was the first time I'd used that particular online service for texting, but I've shared information through the household network before.

Somehow, I don't feel 'isolated' by information tech.

If my family and I never met face-to-face, and communicated exclusively through our computers, iPads, and computers - that could be an issue. But we don't, and it isn't.

The Dire Threat of Telephones Television Texting

I remember when the telephone was a danger to the youth of America. Back then, some concerned citizens were worried about the isolation of 'today's youth' avoiding human contact. These misguided youth spent hours each day: talking on the telephone.

I was in my teens at the time. My generation has its problems: but I'm not at all convinced that we'd have been practically perfect, if it weren't for the telephone. (June 2, 2011)

Television sets were becoming a common fixture in American homes around that time, too. Some folks were excited about the wonderfully enlightened generation that would arise from all the educational programming - others were appalled at the slack-jawed couch potatoes associated with this new technology.

What we actually got was a little of both, plus Gilligan's Island and The Tonight Show.

Tense about Tech?

One of my ancestors, Arba Zeri Campbell, was the first man in his part of Illinois to have a telephone. I suspect he had a long wait before he had someone to talk with on the phone.

Maybe enjoying technology is:
  1. Hereditary
  2. Something kids learn from parents
  3. Determined by a child's environment
  4. A and B
  5. A, B, C
My guess is "E," and that's another topic.

I'm bit like Arba Zeri. I like technology, and what can be done with it. I started my website, Brendan's Island, about as soon as we had a local ISP. That was 1997, when the Internet was sometimes seen as a dire threat. I used to jokingly say that some folks seemed to think WWW stood for "Wicked, Wicked, Web."

I don't think technology is good. I don't think technology is bad. I think technology is a tool.

Tools and Ethics

We decide how we use a hammer, printing press, telephone, or cell phone. If someone throws a hammer and breaks a window: it isn't the hammer's fault.

I suppose someone might not like hammers, and decide to avoid them - and for all I know, someone's formed a hammer-free community.

The Catholic Church doesn't teach that technology - or science - are bad. Or that everything discovered since about 1850 is Satanic. We are, however, told that ethical standards apply: no matter what gadgets we use.
  • Science and technology
    • Can help people
      • Provided ethics are not violated
        (Catechism, 2292-2294)
  • Social communications media
    • Is an important part of today's world
      (Catechism, 2493)
    • Society has a right to information based on
      • Truth
      • Freedom
      • Justice
      • Solidarity
      (Catechism, 2494)
I don't need an Internet connection to be a practicing Catholic. I don't have to hope that the Information Age will go away, either.

I do need to act with charity and justice: whether I'm using social media, or talking with someone face-to-face. What's changed in the last decade or so is how many folks I can communicate with.

Justice, Charity, Freedom, and Respect

" 'It is necessary that all members of society meet the demands of justice and charity in this domain. They should help, through the means of social communication, in the formation and diffusion of sound public opinion.'287 Solidarity is a consequence of genuine and right communication and the free circulation of ideas that further knowledge and respect for others."
(Catechism, 2495)
I suppose phrases like "the formation and diffusion of sound public opinion" sound rather high-flown. What it boils down to, as far as I can tell, is that I'm supposed to help others - or at least avoid hurting them.

On top of that, I should be truthful, respect other folks - and support "the free circulation of ideas...."

Reading that excerpt, I remembered the 1950s superhero who "...fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way." I'm not much like Superman, from the old television series: but it looks like I'm obliged to work for truth, justice, and a more charitable world.

Happily, I'm not alone: and that's yet another topic.

Finally, there's serious discussion about using something like iPads during Mass, instead of misallettes and other printed material. I like the idea, which isn't the same as thinking that it's a good idea.

And that is definitely another topic, for another post.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.