Is there freedom from the dog’s breakfast of Internet content?

A friend shared this on Facebook recently:

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It makes me think of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (1914-2003) and his book, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives. One of the insights of this Serbian Orthodox Father is that reading the newspaper clutters our minds and distracts us from our real task in life, which is quieting the mind and heart to find God.

Elder Thaddeus died a couple of years before Facebook, and his teachings seem blissfully ignorant of the Internet. I have a feeling, however, that his wisdom would have been to avoid this dog’s breakfast of most corners of the Internet. I feel that way sometimes, too.

I’m not sure we should all totally cut ourselves off from the news or Facebook or Tumblr or Reddit, though — but perhaps we should be wise about how much and which news, and then use the news as a way to inform our prayer lives and our social action. Otherwise, in the midst of the celebrity gossip, the venomous editorials, the vapid blogs, the zoo that is the American presidential campaign, the shallowness of much modern politics, et cetera ad infinitum, our thoughts will become so cluttered and our hearts filled with so much confusion and turmoil that we will lose ourselves.

Instead, let us limit our intake of digital media and avoid such things as definitively contribute to the dog’s breakfast of the Internet content.

Then we can sit in silence and seek to find the unutterable mystery of God, who is so much more satisfying than any Internet debate and so much more substantial than any Internet news, for He sits at the heart of the Cosmos, He is Primordial Being, the truest absolute hypostasis/persona, He is absolute, boundless love, and He seeks us to know Him and love Him and then love each other.

(Okay, so that last bit is influenced by Elder Sophrony, His Life Is Mine, not Elder Thaddeus.)

Image source: Michael Leunig Appreciation Page on Facebook

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7 thoughts on “Is there freedom from the dog’s breakfast of Internet content?

  1. Yay for Leunig! Always speaking the truth with humility and a sharp-edged gentleness. I think he would agree about where our thoughts should be centred. (Incidentally the lingerie advertisement under your post, which I know you can’t control, probably belongs in that bowl. But hey, it’s the world we live in: a chance to practice discernment right there!)

  2. Thanks for the post. About three weeks ago, I cancelled my Facebook account. It was difficult at first and occasionally I still wish I had it so I could post something I’d like to share with friends and family. However, not being able to push those things out on the internet has had the unexpected and welcoming effect of turning me more often towards God in gratitude for them.

    • I commend you for cancelling Facebook! I have been tempted on many occasions. I may still go through with it, in fact. I found my mind was fresher and more focussed when I abandoned Facebook during the final stages of writing my PhD. But like a dog to its vomit, there I am….

  3. I believe the monks of Solesmes limit their news intake to only reading the newspaper and not the wireless or any more “up to date” forms of news consumption. This allows them to be reasonably informed without being tied to the 24/7 news feed.

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