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A Means for the Wounded Heart? | News Grab Articles
A Means for the Wounded Heart? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 August 2011 21:17

Patrick Deneen over at The Front Porch Republic has an interesting post about the impact of Facebook on the elderly. Patrick is responding to an article on the Bloomberg site which presents these surprising findings "More than 80 percent of divorce attorneys recently surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that in the past few years they have witnessed “an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence.”  So, what is at the core of this problem, is social media some kind of evil or is it just free love modern grandma style? Okay, those aren't reasonable options and there are certainly numerous factors at play here.

Lets look at what Patrick has to say:

While certainly plausible as a partial explanation, this claim seems overdetermined. If technology makes certain kinds of connections easier, the truth is that divorce was already well-entrenched in our society well before the advent of Facebook. Facebook doubtless makes it easier to wander and engage in the temptations of illicit assignations, but the tendency to divorce one’s spouse was already well-established as a social norm.  Still, it is striking that the kinds of connections that this technology makes easier seems to be assisting in the culmination the logic of John Locke’s contractarian view of the marriage... there is no inherent reason why a couple, having raised their children and seen them enter the age of “nonage,” may not elect to dissolve the bond and pursue other interests...The transformation of this sacramental understanding of marriage to one consisting of contracting individuals has been aided by, and thereby further reinforced, the atomization of the family. First the family was nucleated, with children and parents, siblings and cousins no longer living in proximity.

The article goes on to say that the crisis is strongly connected to the disappearance of a role in child rearing among our elders.  This last point speaks to a much larger issue that Dineen just begins to hit at the end of his article.  When the contemporary elder reaches retirement they often lose their bond to the community that surrounds them "rather than living daily in the rhythm of child-rearing, teaching, storytelling and preservation of memory among the children of one’s children."  Its an unfortunate truth of our culture, we are all spread out often over great distances from family and community.  Facebook offers a connection to community and feelings of love that are not as attainable through our immediate surroundings.  The natural means of communication among family is broken down and replaced with social media that can be very effective in bringing people together but ultimately does not substitute.  We can't easily change the distance we have in our life from family, friends and Church however.  We can render our hearts more in tune with the meaning of marriage as a sacrament and approach our other friendships from that sacramental perspective.




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