LONELINESS AND DISCONNECTION
A recent newspaper article caught my attention. “Only the Lonely” (Courier Mail, 16/2/2019) alerts to a loneliness epidemic impacting on mental wellbeing. This prompted me to reflect on my experience of what is happening in our schools. Is there increasing loneliness in our school community?
In society generally there does seem to be an increase in family stress, separation and divorce, depression, anxiety and school refusal, all of which may contribute to or stem from feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It is ironic that loneliness is increasing at a time of increased digital connection through all the various social media apps, YouTubing, texting, blogging and emailing as well as numerous online, multi-player games. Reality TV often depicts a superficial view of relationships and features people behaving at their dysfunctional worst. The ‘selfie’ phenomenon can portray filtered and unrealistic images that may contribute to anxiety over body image and ultimately self-alienation and withdrawal from supportive relationships. The internet of things has given us unprecedented access to knowledge. Yet it seems that never before have so many known so little of what is truly of value. False news distorts reality inflating perception and popularism over facts and truth.
In an age of unprecedented technological connection face to face connection and face to face communication have declined. A new family norm seems to be emerging where family members are isolated from each other emotionally and physically, not eating meals together regularly and not spending time together. British researcher Susan Greenfield has raised concern that excessive use of screen technology has resulted in a decline in face to face communication skills so necessary for authentic, close human relationships and connection.
In our Ash Wednesday Liturgy this week we were challenged to make changes during Lent to be the best person we can be. A staff member shared that in discussing the meaning of Lent and self- denial with her child, her child asked her to give up Facebook for Lent because “Mummy you don’t listen to me when you are on Facebook”.
Ours is a busy world – so much to do and seemingly so little time to do all we need to do. Lent is a time to make time to reflect on what is truly meaningful in our lives and to be the best and most authentic version of ourselves. In an increasingly secular world, the spiritual dimension of what it means to be human is often neglected.
Reflection takes time and stillness. When did you last experience being still?
Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I AM God.”
Being still does not seem to be a value of modern western life; rather doing is what is valued. Our days seem to be filled with doing – doing this and doing that; viewing this and that, social networking, texting, emailing, so little time to do all that has to be done. We complain we don’t have enough time.
Technology and screen culture work against us by taking our time, taking our stillness, diminishing our relationships ….. 24 hours a day.
Image is everything – not who we are but what we have.
At the end of life all we have is who we are, who we have become.
Who are we becoming?
This Lent… Be present… Be with … Be still… Reflect