I am still struck by a blog post from a while back written by Theology of the Body Institute educator Bill Donaghy after an incident he witnessed during Pope Francis’ visit to America. The title caught my eye — Digital Contraception — and therein he tackled with beauty and insight the ever-increasing presence of technology in our lives and how screen time often replaces our face-to-face interactions with others. This is something many of us struggle with, but if you’re like me you probably never even considered how it goes hand in hand with the “contraceptive mindset.”
When I speak of contraception and of a contraceptive mentality in the present culture, it isn’t merely the biological block. It isn’t merely latex or a pill that is the issue. That exterior contraception is really the manifestation of a deeper interior contraception. An emotional contraception. A kind of spiritual contraception that holds back the heart and soul of one person from another. We see it everywhere. We struggle with it at multiple levels. In our frenetic activism we’ve failed as receivers. We’ve neglected to become that naked heart to the real and raw encounters of everyday life.
This wall of smartphones that we’ve seen in the photos and videos of the recent of Pope Francis are certainly not intrinsically evil, or even sinful, but it sure seems strange. In a certain sense, these phone walls can be just as much a block to the life-giving call of humanity to love as other forms of contraception. I think you all know what I’m talking about. You all have experienced it in your own lives perhaps within the lives of your own family or friends, or in restaurants, movie theaters, workplaces, sidewalks and even busy streets. Millions of people dozens of times a day hold up before their very faces a thin wall. A 3 x 5 screen that while aiding us remarkably in communicating with others, too often hinders the communion with the real flesh and blood right in front of us.
— Sarah Drew