Friday, August 20, 2010

The Digital Age and Leisure

We have been reading now for a while (much longer than originally anticipated) Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture.  Points have been made on previous posts about "the worker mentality" and the "aggression of observation."  A concept of total work is established wherein leisure is seen as laziness or a waste of time and where others things can be done.  This concept has undoubtedly taken hold of our society and is perpetuated by contemporary media.

Images, words, videos, concepts, ideas, biases.  All of these are flashed before us in a Gatling gun barrage of sensory data and powerful memories.  They keep the mind and the body in constant movement and work.  It's both passive, inasmuch as it does not necessarily require intellectual interaction, and active, inasmuch as it is constant sensual stimulation that the brain is constantly processing.

This also occurs in social networking.  Many, including myself, have been "addicted" to Facebook or Myspace.  The need for human contact is so innate in man in relieving this desire that it can easily become disordered.  The brain and the body is in constant stimulation giving imitating this "worker mentality" of a world without leisure, without quiet reflection and contemplation.

Pope Benedict warned us of this last year in his Address for 43rd the World Day of Communications.
"If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development."  
Here Pieper's and Benedict's thoughts intersect.  Maybe we should begin to listen.

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