The quest for quiet in our digital world PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 April 2016 11:57



This is now the veritable big challenge we all have. With all the noise and frenzy created by our increasingly digital age, we are also slowly but steadily neglecting our need for silence, for reflection, for an abiding spirit of recollection if only to continue to be in touch with our existential foundation who is God.

We have to face this challenge squarely. We have to raise the alarm since the situation is getting seriously grave. We cannot anymore take this issue for granted. What a pity it would be if we are lulled to believing that we are gaining a lot in our life when in fact we are ebbing away to perdition.

The challenge posed by this new digital age is today’s formulation of the classic challenge articulated in the gospel: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk 8,36) We should always be most aware of this divine admonition.

The digital culture is notorious for giving us the sensation of immediate response to relieving some of our needs and  instantly satisfying our curiosities and all sorts of whims and caprices.

This is, of course, a relatively positive feature of such culture. But we have to realize also that such phenomenon can also give rise to reflex reactions that are often bereft of good reason, let alone, emptied of the requirements of charity and truth. We are often pressured to shoot from the hip.

For all the advantages that the digital world gives us, we have to realize keenly that there is a price to pay for that, and, in fact, it is quite a stiff price! We should be willing to pay the price.

We should not be easily beguiled by its apparent facility and gratuitousness or its costless feature. It actually requires a lot from us. It demands nothing less than a high level of capacity to discern, to organize things, to observe the proper order of things, etc. In short, a new level of human and Christian maturity. The price to pay is to develop a higher level of discipline fit for the peculiarities of the digital age.

I have always maintained that these new technologies are good for the strong and mature people, and extremely bad for the weak, ignorant and confused. I admit that that view can be considered simplistic, since life has mysteries that can preempt such view.

Yes, I believe that God’s providence never fails to guide the course of world events, and that it has mysterious self-correcting mechanisms to deal with whatever mistakes and blunders we make in this world. We should therefore not worry too much. Still, I believe it is a good basic principle and practical guideline to follow.

Obviously, finer guidelines have to be formulated as we go along and tackle changing situations and new circumstances. What is clear is that to properly cruise in this often uncharted ocean created by our new technologies, we need to firm up our capacity to pray, to reflect, to be recollected.

And that means a sense to find the silence and quiet needed to be able to discern the spirit behind the rapid flow of images and information, to get in touch with the substance behind the appearances and the noise of it all.

What we are seeing instead are people unfamiliar and even hostile to the need for silence and quiet. They fail to acknowledge the intrinsic truth of the need for silence and reflection in any process of communication and dialogue. They just react spontaneously, guided only by what they consider to be commonsensical or the what-comes-naturally syndrome.

We need to raise the cry for this need for silence and quiet. It has to be raised in each individual person, in families, schools, offices, churches, etc. In this campaign, we have to be always positive and optimistic, highlighting the greater good it gives though it can demand a lot of sacrifice.

We all need time to pray and study. We have to learn and assimilate the relevant moral and ethical principles involved in coping with the challenge of this new digital age. The new intricacies of tact, prudence, charity, for example, as exposed by the current state of how we are dealing with this digital culture, should be brought out to the open for everyone to appreciate, learn and live.

Let’s hope that we can descend from generic reminders and warnings to concrete indications of how to make proper use of the new technologies. With everyone’s effort and cooperation, we can surely make progress in this quest for quiet in our digital world!