When I was growing up, in the vastly reduced television circumstances of my era (only 3 channels, one for every major network), I remember on Sunday mornings there was a broadcast called “Mass for Shut-ins”. It was what it claimed to be, a broadcast from a local church of the Catholic Mass, so that those who had no means to get out of the house could still hear and see a Mass conducted.
I never paid much attention to it, other than the curiosity aroused by thinking about who the shut-ins might be. Although my young mind couldn’t really comprehend just why and what circumstances could compel someone to be stuck at home, I remember feeling sorry for whoever these folks might be. I hoped on Saturday mornings there was a “Cartoons for Shut-ins” show as well.
Fast-forward 40 years and most of our lifestyles have come to resemble the shut-in, homebound lifestyle more than we’d like to admit. I’m amazed at how much time I spend peering into my monitor as my window on the world. I read emails and blogs and communicate with people who I feel some kind of electronic kinship with on a daily basis, yet my neighbors are largely unknown to me except for the passing greeting if we both leave our cocoons at the same time.
This isn’t all bad….I’m glad I have a means to interact with people I’d probably never know existed in an earlier time. It can’t help but bring us closer together as a species. But we do run the risk of alienating ourselves from our own physical surroundings and community. As we spend more and more time working and living in Screenland we lose touch with the little things around us – our parks that are slowly deteriorating due to budget cuts, how our town is changing – just the daily comings and goings in our little slice of the globe
We might start to feel less like citizens of our real world because we spend our time in an imaginary world. And that can’t be good, because we still need to draw our sustenance and real life from our physical surroundings.
It would be a pity of we logged off one day and found it wasn’t there anymore.