The rector of SS Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Father John Lankeit, has made another bold move which has really opened my eyes. Father is modestly famous already for several of his homilies, his banishment of female altar boys, and his institution of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, as well as Gregorian Chant. In short, the Novus Ordo at the cathedral under his direction is about as solid as you can get. He gave a homily on abortion and voting, four weeks prior to the 2016 election, that was absolutely titanic. It’s not a stretch to say it helped influince the outcome. It went very viral, but in case you missed it and want to get to know him a bit, HERE.
Father Lankeit abruptly shut down his social media accounts last Friday after posting the video embedded below. The short video (15 minutes) shows former top-level Facebook executives explaining how their platform was built: By exploiting and cultivating narcissistic behavior traits around Likes, Shares, Comments, and in the beginning, freind requests. They learned as they went along, and the software was continually adapted to drive the maximum dopamine release to keep users coming back. In short, it’s no mistake that it is easy to get addicted to this crap. Rather, it was built that way.
The dopamine addiction certainly is a problem for the individual – we are talking about changing the physical structure of the brain, after all. But the executives go on to explain why it’s an even bigger cultural problem. As in, civilizational. You see it all around you, on the streets, in the office, in your home, in your family. It explains a lot about how things out in the real world just seem to be different now; a distinct sense that a transformation has taken place. The fabric of society is being torn asunder by these platforms, in a way that is disfiguring our humanity.
I know I use it way too much. Collectively I bet I’m on it two hours a day, not only the platforms themselves, but also the rabbit holes they lead to by clicking links. For me, Twitter is far worse than Facebook. On Facebook, you see what your freinds want you to see. On Twitter, you see what YOU want to see, by deciding who you follow. So the content is automatically way more interesting to you. You can easily lose track of time by getting sucked in to all sorts of stuff. There is a whole bunch of Catholic content, both good and bad, and a large number of solid Catholics/blogs on there too.
I’m still lucky enough to be highly unpopular. I’m sure the temptation is far worse for someone with a lot of followers. I’m going to start praying about all those things I claim I don’t have time for, and see if I can’t carve out some of the interweebs instead. If I fail, I might have to follow father’s lead.
Here’s the video.