embracing the silence

Well I did it. I participated in the day of media silence yesterday. I didn’t post any snarky comments anywhere, or eavesdrop on any public Twitter conversations, or get into any combox discussions.

I never once updated my status.

I don’t think anyone missed me.

And whatever I missed…well…let’s just say I’m no worse for the wear if I didn’t get the memo about your adventures.

I did learn a few things about myself and my use of this ever present internet playground.

The first thing is this: I was on the whole day. I checked email, for work, for family obligations, for social engagements. It’s a tool I use, and use quite often.

The second thing is related to the first: For all the virtual engagement I may have with people I’ve never met, I probably have more with people with whom I have an actual physically present relationship. That, boys and girls, was very encouraging to know.

And then I learned something about my habits that I’m going to work on. You see, my initial go to, even with the people I know, is to reach out to them via social networks. Why? Because I’m already on. Yesterday, I made some phone calls. On land lines. Go ahead and laugh. Do they even exist? Yes. And I used them.

You see, perhaps I’m not getting full credit for being off-line…my phone broke. Yeah. No facie-book or tweeting for me anyway….at least until I get home.

And since I’m in full disclosure mode, I’ll also say something else. Except for a rosary in the late afternoon commute, I didn’t pray yesterday. Not the way I usually pray because I turned off my alerts. That’s right. I forgot about God because little chimes sending me to various internet resources for prayer didn’t alert me.

I am ashamed. Ashamed enough to rethink why something that I thought I had cultivated as a habit is in fact not a habit. It occurs to me that I had missed a certain communal aspect of my prayer life, which is in fact, a rather participatory thing in the social networks. I not only didn’t encourage anyone to join me in prayer, but I had no one to nudge me.

Aha! So perhaps there’s more to this than pulled-pork sandwich status updates and reposting George Takei’s pictures.

I think that is Pope Benedict’s point. The internet, for all its potential for distraction and sin, is also a resource for community, and learning, and growth. I missed my friends. I missed the apps that make me a better steward of my time when it comes to prayer. I missed the opportunity to engage my faith with other like-minded individuals, and a few unlike-minded individuals that are willing to enter into the conversation.

In short, I missed my Catholic Media, and the people who, um…people it.

So I finally get around to answering the big pressing question for this year’s Promote Catholicism Day:

“What in Catholic Media has had an impact on me during the past year?”

I didn’t need a day of silence to answer that question because I knew it right away. It just became very clear to me that the answer, Matt Swaim’s little idea with a big bang, The Grateful Tweet, is the thing that has had the most impact on me. The fact that the first thing I wanted to do when I opened my computer was tweet my gratitude — and couldn’t — made me a little sad. Ok, and I had withdrawal twitches when I engaged in a little conversation in my head. You know, where you proceed to rationalize why this one little tweet really isn’t breaking the silence.

One little tweet in the morning (and sometimes, later in the day), has changed my entire attitude. It has put me in a posture to seek the positive first. I’ve been tweeting since Twitter’s release (I’m kinda embarrassed by that, too) and I’d venture to say that my on-line attitude has changed, for the better, in these past 227 days of grateful tweeting.

It’s a small thing, barely 140 characters long, but it has had the biggest impact on me.

What about you? Why don’t you join the conversation at the New Evangelizer’s forum?

5 thoughts on “embracing the silence

  1. I cannot leave comments here when I use my gmail address! (Apparently gmail and wordpress don’t play nice in the sandbox together.)

    I too missed the grateful tweeting–my own, and that by others. It’s a wonderful way to start the day; a habit of gratitude.

    And I see nothing wrong with using electronic cues to call you to prayer. Way back when, church bells used to ring and everyone heard them. That’s not happening now. I think it’s a good use of technology.

    Your paragraph about the Pope and the Internet is spot-on.

  2. I missed your tweets, too, and WWF! Did you see Cardinal Dolan’s tweet quoting St. Augustine? “St. Augustine said gratitude is the beginning of holiness. If you want to be holy, be grateful today.” I thought of you immediately.

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