Pope Francis has urged families to put down their iPhones and iPads and start communicating with one another again, and in doing so has echoed the sentiments of the man who helped to create such gadgets – Steve Jobs.
At first glance you wouldn’t think there was much common ground between men such as Pope Francis and Steve Jobs, who inhabit and inhabited the often conflicting worlds of religion and technology.
Jobs is fondly remembered as the innovative and groundbreaking Apple godhead who made technology cool, and the other is the widely adored head of the Catholic Church who is striving to make religion relevant in the modern world.
Yet as far back as 2010, the late Steve Jobs was advising caution when it came to the excessive use of gadgets such as the iPhone and iPads and told a friend in confidence that, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, confirmed such sentiments when he wrote, “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer.”
Five years later and it’s not a man of science, but a man of the cloth reiterating those same sentiments. The Independent reports that the Pontiff used his annual message for the Catholic church’s World Day of Communications to advise that while new media can help families communicate, it can also hinder communication too.
“The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.”
Pope Francis then went on to warn that gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad can be used as a way of evading physical contact and not listening to what others have to say. The Pope also sounded a note of concern that we are also busy staring at screens when we should be resting and appreciating the silent and quiet places that life offers.
Quoting his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis added, “Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist.”
Francis described how our first experience of communication is with our mothers, when we are in the womb. A place he called the first “school of communication.” He added that consequently families are a model for all subsequent communication, and that their is a danger of excessive smartphone and tablet use negating the instinctive need to communicate with one’s nearest and dearest.
“A child who has learned in the family to listen to others, to speak respectfully and to express his or her view without negating that of others, will be a force for dialogue and reconciliation in society. Families at their best actively communicate.”
[Image via The Independent]