Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a millennial. I grew up in the time of almost nobody having a computer at home, and now, almost everyone has one. I still marvel at the fact that schools now are working toward a one-to-one student-to-device ratio, because that’s just how education works right now (especially with online learning and home-based instruction). When I was in elementary school, first at Cosgriff and then at the Madeleine Choir School shortly after it opened, “computer class” was Oregon Trail, and typing games, and that was pretty much it. When I got to high school at Judge, the library had two rows of big chunky iMac computers. I didn’t have e-mail until college, and I didn’t have social media until my second year of undergrad. Now, technology has taken over almost everyone’s lives, right down to toddlers who can navigate an iPhone. Life moves pretty fast sometimes.
When I was growing up, “screen time” wasn’t a thing. If someone referred to screen time it meant how long a certain actor was actually on-screen during a movie or television show. Now, that phrase is used to refer to the amount of time people spend on the computer or looking at their mobile device. I’ll admit, I spend way too much of my time engaged in “screen time.” I can justify some of it as necessary to do my job, but a lot of it, I could probably do without.
But even with its definite downsides, technology can serve to connect us during times of social isolation, like the last several months have been. It can serve to create a virtual community. It can connect us to our “brick and mortar” communities when we aren’t able to visit them in the physical world. One can also find groups of like-minded people to connect with. An example of this is Fr. Gray’s morning coffees with his St. Mary’s parishioners in Park City over Facebook Live. Using technology to build community rather than to escape from it is a wonderful thing.
At St. Ambrose, we on staff have been working hard since the pandemic restrictions really began to impact our city and state to keep people connected to the parish through social media and YouTube Masses. We are learning and evolving together. Let us hope and pray that technology will help us to remain kindred spirits in community even during isolation.