TEXAS FAITH: The Blessings and Burdens of Life Online

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“Digital distraction” is one term for the problem they see when people are instantly, but often shallowly, communicating and multi-tasking. What do you see as the blessings and burdens of social networking and the general ease with which people stay in touch these days? Would you, through your religious tradition, advocate periods of withdrawal?

Sam Hodges of Dallas Morning News posed the questions by email, and got answers back – in a matter of minutes, with one panelist – by email. So there’s some irony in this week’s Texas Faith.
Here’s what the ten panelists said:
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
Most certainly, I would advocate periods of withdrawal for reflection, family time, prayers or meditation. Call it a “tech Sabbath.” There is a time for everything and whatever you do in life, you should do it wholeheartedly as it brings a sense of composure, integrity and commitment to the task at hand and fulfillment to one’s being.
The unstated purpose of prayers is to re-compose oneself from an overload of activities and freshen up. The Aztecs, Zoroastrians and everyone in between follows a comparable formula. It is like re-booting your computer when it slows down running multiple programs. You can struggle with its sluggishness and become aggravated or simply re-boot and have it function well.
The technology has indeed made us more productive than ever. While it has been beneficial in helping us communicate precisely and on a timely basis in a short few tweets, the side effect is addiction.
On Valentine’s Day, a man was texting from under the table while his girl friend was admiring him. She later took the phone away and eventually they had a peaceful dinner. We are still editing the video from Dallas Qur’aan conference to avoid showing the panelists texting and twitting under the table. The extremity of this addiction is texting while driving.
I hope all the religious and meditative traditions seek to restore integrity in us, so when we are in the place of worship, we are at full peace and free from tensions. We hope to walk out completely re-booted and geared to function well. Let’s not mess with our solitude or time with our lord.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer, speaker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace and Islam. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is reflected at three websites and 21 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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