(This was written as a class assignment. We listened to two podcasts and had to comment/summarize them; they were talking about how media changes us not only by the content, but by the means that we receive the content.)
Both the podcast that we listened to in class as well as the one that we listened to on The Efficient Gospel talked about how the media that we use changes us, regardless of whether the content is good or bad. I have seen this time and again in my experience; it could be said that I am living with one foot in a simplistic way of life and one foot in the new media world. I grew up in the country, with no friends that played video games, had their own phone, or watched much if any television.
For about ten years while I was growing up, we did not have a television; even now, I can easily go for an entire quarter without watching a movie. However, we did have computers all the while growing up (my Dad was and electrical engineer), and we had internet from the time that I was about 12 or 13. Although I was not allowed to go on the internet a lot, I did pick it up more quickly and began doing things first for my parents and then as they allowed me to do more, connecting with other Catholic youth over the internet. As I grew up and began making these friends outside of our home school groups and connecting with them through letters, the internet, and my job (at a fast food restaurant), I noticed that there were many differences. Most of the differences that Shane Hipps talks about I still notice on occasion.
One of the frustrations that I have found with people who are immersed in the pop culture and media world is that they have such a utilitarian, entertainment mindset. They have little use for the Faith, and it is more often thought of as a way to avoid hell rather than a relationship with Christ that will bring us true freedom. This seemed to be the same point that was addressed in The Efficient Gospel. As our culture has evolved around entertainment—first with radio, then with movies, television, telephones, computers, the internet, cell phones, and so on—we have become more desensitized to the people around us. As we have had the ability to build a quantity of relationships, the quality has gone down…which takes away the natural experience of love and service that is the basis of what we are supposed to emulate as Christians.
Although I have had the experience of people sending text and instant messages without pleasantries, I have always found it rude and utilitarian—it may be efficient, but to me it still gives the message that they do not even care enough to say hello. The medium does change us to an extent; for example, because I have the huge resource of the internet, anytime I want to know something about anything I can find out quickly. Things that I would not have much knowledge of if I did not have the convenience, I can look at briefly and move on. The temptation to be available to anyone at anytime is always present; but there are some things that are not inherently in the medium (such as not using pleasantries) yet are used in that way in our culture. I think that, especially as Christians, it is important to practice detachment from technology as with other things; if we allow it to have too much of an impact on our life, it will take its toll on our relationships and we will be just another person in the crowd going in the wrong direction.