Thursday 11 June 2015

Where the Boys Are

I just read a terrific-and terrifying--post on the dangers of young men's internet habits. It has something to say about women, too:

This is terribly tragic for Catholic women too. There are so few devout and well-raised Catholic men for them to marry. The men of our day cannot attend to the emotional needs their potential wives. They cannot communicate with them effectively or support them properly. The Catholic gentleman is nearly dead, because, alone in their rooms, boys do not learn Catholic virtues by example, nor can they practice them in everyday living. I noted in the beginning that is perfectly natural for boys to think about sex. However, if a boy is properly socialized, he will know when sex is appropriate and what is it for. Sex will certainly pass on his genes, but if he is educated and trained well in authentic masculinity, he will pass on more than his genes: he will pass on his virtue and his Catholic Faith.

Personally I sensed there was something addictive in the internet ten years ago. I thought of changing my PhD thesis topic to "Curiositas" because I thought so-called "internet addiction", which people were just starting to talk about, was a moral problem--akin to reading detective novels all day long instead of working. Later, after reading a lot about it, I came to the conclusion that it was a symptom of--and even a treatment for--acute depression. However, I am now convinced that it has something to do with instant gratification and the pleasure of seeing something interesting appear on a screen at the touch of a button.

Take email, for example. Isn't it exciting to get a new email from an actual friend? It is terribly exciting for me--although I prefer letters, naturally. But letters don't make my heart race the way email does. Email, email! Click.

Same goes for Facebook. Do I have a new message? I DOOOO!  Click, click! 

Meanwhile, I can hardly be bothered to check my phone when I come home to see if I have messages. And my mobile phone goes unchecked for hours and hours, sometimes days. 

What the hey is that all about? Well, I'm not a psychologist, but I do pay attention to what my brain does. Meanwhile I was deep in the middle of writing a story--by hand--when B.A. called to ask me to check an email. That was 45 minutes ago. (Fortunately, half the time I'm on the internet, I'm writing on it.)

But here's another thought. B.A. and I met initially over the internet, reading each other's blogs and occasionally emailing. And, surprise, surprise, when we're together in the evenings, we're often online. Usually in the same room, but online. At least we talk, though. "Did you see...? "Did you hear...? "Go read...!"  Fortunately, he doesn't play video games. For him as for me, the internet is a way to exchange ideas with people. We do that a lot. 

However, this points to a problem with internet dating: sometimes it never leaves the internet. You can have wonderful conversations with men from all over the world, but they are not going to leave the house and meet you for a coffee. And this is not just because they are in France, or wherever. There are guys who live in the next block from you who won't meet you for coffee because it is just so much easier and more comfortable and, gosh darn it, normal for them to text you over the computer while drinking their own coffee in front of the screen. 

This is why, once again, I encourage Searching Singles to turn off the computer and go out into the world to meet fellow Catholic Searching Singles. Use the computer to find the opportunities to meet them--and other Searching Singles of Good Will--in person, and then TURN IT OFF.  The kind of men who are not addicted to internet porn and gaming are the kind of men who are outdoors, in cafés, at political meetings, at swing-dancing, in libraries reading actual books, in night school, improving their languages or professional skills. Yesterday I was talking to a young man at swing-dancing about a band he wants people to see tonight. He doesn't even have a computer. (He just got a smart-phone, though.) Religious? No. Cultural Catholic? Yes. 

It is very sad about those boys and men left behind in their rooms. They are casualties. And guess what happened to a generation of women in the UK after their men were casualties of World War I? For huge numbers of them, life without husbands. These internet-addled boys and men---unless somehow they get help, they might as well be Ringwraiths as far as young women are concerned. But woe to us if they're our own sons. 


  1. One of my Young Fogey friends hates video games with a burning passion, and I can't help but love him (in a sisterly way) for it.

  2. Not sure that too many men are doing the things you list.

    Anyway, don't you envy people like the strict Mennonites who will never get hooked to technology?

    No kidding.

  3. Well, I don't envy the Mennonites, for I don't envy any Protestants, although I think the Mennonites do have a healthy (if limited) way of life (and amazing apple crullers). It would be awesome to find 19th century Catholic farming communities--somewhere deep deep in rural Quebec, where nobody got the memo....Ahhhh! It is to dream. However, there are indeed SOME men doing the things I list because that is a sample of what the Single men I know are doing. I see them at these activities, or I see the activities listed on their Facebook events. Edinburgh is a real cultural centre, of course!

  4. "This is terribly tragic for Catholic women too. There are so few devout and well-raised Catholic men for them to marry."

    Unfortunately, I know Catholic men who were raised well and outwardly practice their Faith (other than receiving Communion) who have porn addictions. As horrible as it is for those out in the secular world (I'm not addressing the other tech stuff, because I agree with it all), it's even worse to think you know marriageable men...and find out they're not. And they don't want to change. I pity them, the little dears.


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