What tethers us?

This is the fourth day since I stopped looking at or posting on my Facebook page.

The first thing to note is that, because we have a parish presence on Facebook (which is often quite helpful), and because it would not be right to cease all activity thereon for the month, that it is not easy to get absolutely free of the big FB. The parish use of FB includes morning or evening prayer of compline live on different days of the week. Folks have noted that, unexpectedly, the pandemic time has seen them (through online connections) praying in the company of others more often than at any prior time in their lives. That is a lovely side-effect of a very hard period of time in life. And good to hear.

The title above refers to a reality in life, both positive and negative. I need, likely we all need, something to hold us, ground us, steady us so that we do not fly away with every wind that sweeps across the surface of the earth or the inward surface of our hearts. The best tether is love – family love, committed love, married love, the love of friends. Scripture can be a tether, as well as the faith or just the curiosity that sends us there. Prayer can be a tether, a place of settling and of re-centering from day to day or hour to hour.

A tether can also be a rather negative thing, if it is an anchor that is not raised when the ship needs to sweep ahead on its journey over the waters of life.

It seems to me that social media can be a positive tether. As when it reconnects us to old friends and classmates, or introduces us to new people whose presence enriches life. As when it opens us to new learning, new interests, new possibilities, even new sentences spoken long ago by others which can shed renewed light on life and issues of our day.

But social media can be a negative tether as well. When it pulls us away from actual physical presence with others. When we are compulsed to check it constantly, or to post whether there is something of significance to say or not. Some research seems to suggest that it can be depressive for some of us as well. That is a tether we do not need to voluntarily accept.

So it is an important question for me to consider now, during the month of digital discipline. What are the things that tether me? Which are lifegiving? Which are exhausting and emptying? If insight should come to those questions, it will be clear where to remain tethered, connected, linked, and how.

Ironically, the settings here on WordPress may have these words proceed automatically to Facebook or to Twitter. There’s a tether!

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