Children and Social Media

Recently comedian Louis C.K. was a guest on Conan O’Brien’s late night show. During the interview, he explained why he doesn’t let his daughters have smart phones. “Children who communicate primarily through social media don’t learn basic interpersonal skills because they don’t experience the facial reactions that build empathy.” Combining humor with insight, C.K. went on to lament the practice many people have of reaching for smart phones to maintain human connection in a culture that lacks deep human connection. C.K. said of texting while driving “People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second.”[1]

Louis C.K.’s critical commentary was captured in a YouTube video that has, as they say, gone viral. Of the video, Meghan Daum of the L.A. Times wrote “To watch the clip spread like a contagion wasn’t just to see how much the public relates to the existential torpor C.K. talked about. It was to realize how hungry we are for people who can explain to us what we feel and why we feel it. …With some estimates showing that less than half of Americans attend religious services regularly, it’s to be expected that people are looking to other sources for inspiration, moral guidance and, as C.K. supplied so graciously, a reminder that angst is a universal condition.” After watching the video, I am surprised at how much people seem to identify with C.K. In a culture where critical thinking and self-examination are far from commonplace, this level of response seems to affirm the challenges as well as the gifts associated with technology.

Seen against this backdrop, Holy Cross is a community of renewed possibility. We encompass almost six living generations. Think of the historical and cultural milestones that our nonagenarians have experienced – everything from the ebb and flow of manufacturing to Women’s Suffrage and the Repeal of Prohibition Laws to sweeping advances in medicine, travel and technology. Sixteen U.S. Presidents and several wars later, our youngest members grow up in a much different world. Civil Rights legislation has challenged longstanding patterns of exclusion, immunization has all but eliminated diseases that once maimed or killed millions, space travel now extends beyond the solar system, and the finger on a computer touchpad is preferred to almost any other writing instrument.

Through Holy Cross and the greater Church, we are deeply connected in a multitude of ways, some of which involve digital communication, others which do not. People who might not otherwise cross paths learn by joining in this community of faith that relationships can transcend categories of race, ethnicity, gender, age and religion. Particularly when they are rooted in God.

I am thankful for digital communication that links people around the globe in ways once thought unimaginable. I am also aware that the world can be a lonely place. Far from being an antiquated relic, the Church, synagogue and temple offer a safe place to belong, to be touched by love, and to “friend” God.

Rev. Laura

[1] L.A. Times Louis C.K., holy man, Meghan Daum, September 26, 2013 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-daum-louis-ck-texting-wisdom-20130926,0,3543542.column