An internet occasion of sin (NOT impurity but anger/despair)


#1

It may seem kind of ironic of me to be asking random strangers on the internet for advice on the following question, but here goes…

I’m addicted, you could say, to the internet but NOT for anything having to do with impurity or pornography. Rather, I’m hooked on certain news and political discussion sites, mainly of a conservative or right leaning nature (e.g. Twitchy, Instapundit, Hot Air) as well as several Catholic oriented blogs. I visit about half a dozen of these sites on a daily basis (not Catholic Answers, however, I haven’t been here in a while!) and if there is a really interesting discussion going on, I can stay up late into the night posting comments back and forth.

I worry at times that these are becoming an occasion of sin to me for the following reasons:

  1. I spend time surfing and commenting on the blogs that I could be using doing something more useful, like cleaning house, reading a good book, praying, exercising, sleeping, doing something productive with my husband or daughter, etc.

  2. Some of the blog posts/discussions leave me in a state of anger, envy or despair that spills over to my “outside” life. I distinctly remember that after the 2012 elections, there were a lot of commenters ranting about how this was The End of America (And Possibly the World) As We Know It, and for the first time, I had to stop reading these blogs completely because they were making me angry and upset at everything, and was about to drive me barking mad. These were mainly conservative blogs that were upsetting me, but reading liberal/left leaning blogs (e.g. Think Progress, Daily Kos) makes me even MORE angry, disgusted and upset so I avoid them as much as possible.

Of late I find that certain discussions of racial issues, feminist issues and issues surrounding Islamist terrorism are prompting me to think much less charitably of certain groups of people, to be more anxious and distressed about the future of the Church, and to be fearful of doing some things that I have long wanted to do (e.g., visiting museums and tourist sites in major cities where riots, demonstrations, etc. have occurred). I know we have an obligation to be informed of what is going on in the world, but I guess I need to know when to quit.

So my basic question is: when does “addiction” to internet discussion of news and current events become an occasion of sin, and have any of you struggled with it?


#2

It sounds like maybe more of an obsession rather than addiction?
I hope it’s not a sin because you can tell that you are genuinely struggling with the matter.
It might sound flippant but I wish you could move to Australia as we have much less discussions around “controversial” subjects here and much less political blogs etc.
Are you able to describe something that has particularly angered/affected you and your views on it?


#3

Here’s an example you might be able to relate to, since it involves the recent hostage situation in Sydney:

twitchy.com/2014/12/15/ghouls-taking-selfies-at-site-of-sydneysiege-photos/

Scroll down to view the comments below, in which several commenters say things like “This is proof that all sense of decency and morality is gone from the world and it’s why I am relieved I never brought any children into it.” I am 50 years old and have an autistic daughter who is 19, and the attitude of the commenters almost upsets me as much as the actions of the people in the original story! I’m both angry with them AND can’t help but agree with them at the same time, if you know what I mean.


#4

I have to admit that I deserted a forum because I couldn’t handle the feelings of envy :oops: (They discussed a lot of stuff which I didn’t have the money for.)

As to the political stuff, I can relate! For me, the cures are 1. the Sorrowful Mysteries: when has Christendom been so low as at the Crucifixion? and 2. reading history. Things look bad now, but they have almost always looked bad. You are just enough younger than I to not remember the utter chaos of the 60s, when the world seemed to be being turned upside down by riots and student groups…

Something which I realized nust last week, so have made little use of yet, is the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer when she visited Elizabeth. I have long used the first half while praying the Rosary, but it wasn’t til last week that the second part made sense: Mary can totally ignore what’s going on in the world because God will take care of it all :slight_smile:


#5

Good question…I’m not sure at what point that happens.

I don´t think of it in terms of sin, more in psychological terms, myself.

There is a kind of psychology to addiction, in general. A lot of times, we turn to an addiction to replace something else, often something we don´t have, can´t get.

I know I use food, and when I’m upset, etc., I turn to addictions even more than not. For some people, it’s alcohol. Most people seem to have SOMETHING, even if it’s just watching too much TV.

It depends really on the strength of the addiction, especially just how problematic it has become, I suppose. If it is hurting one’s life, or that of others, then it is becoming problematic.


#6

Sometimes it’s wise to take a break from all of it. It can be destructive to our mental and even physical health (raising blood pressure, releasing stress hormones, undermining our immune systems, etc.) to focus on the negative. It sounds like you’re really sensitive and it brings you quickly to a point of frustration to read this stuff. I know - I’m kind of that way myself! :wink: Look at the anger as a symptom that it’s time to step away from the interwebz for awhile.:rolleyes:

Take some time out to read and reflect on Philippians 4:4-8 and find some positive things to reflect on - look at the good done by, say, a religious group like Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Do some volunteer work yourself to brighten your own little corner of the world. I know how easy it is to want to be able to do everything to fix the world and to feel frustrated when we can’t. God’s in charge. Pray the Divine Mercy “Jesus, I Trust In You” and the Chaplet. Pray to St. Michael against evil. Then practice letting go. Peace be with you! :slight_smile:


#7

Thanks.
The way that I keep a level head when reading certain things is by

1.recognising that the media intentionally inflames situations or blows them out of proportion to incite certain feelings and therefor encourage ratings or more newspaper sales.
2.recognising that the people who post comments,opinion blogs etc online are often more extreme in their opinions then everyday people in the street.

Sometimes people often write “lightly” without fully thinking through what they think.
Eg:when the person wrote “this is proof all decency has gone…” they might not literally mean that but are just responding to their momentary feelings about the selfie taking.
Sometimes we also get mad when we don’t understand what’s motivating the person.
But unfortunately,there’s also just some mean people out there too.
Don’t worry though,there’s plenty of decency,humanity and compassion still out there. As shown by the many people placing down flowers in Sydney,the “I’ll ride with you” campaign etc.

In the hostage situation,reporters blew the “selfie” thing out of proportion to “get a story” when in reality there was an extremely minor number of people (mostly tourists) who took selfies.

I agree with the posters who said its good to get away from the things that bother you or at least limit/balance them with positive things.
I bet your daughters a real blessing.May God Bless you and your daughter and please try to avoid stress.


#8

So my basic question is: when does “addiction” to internet discussion of news and current events become an occasion of sin,

The real sin is the one against your own spirit…the utter loss of spiritual joy!
People at the ends, left or right, tend to be dogmatic. They have a tendency to assume an air of authority that has never been bestowed on them. When they do so, they come across as condescending, rigid, uncompromising, and sour. Who are your evangelizers? Do they bring you good news, lifting your heart, mind and spirit into a joy for life and trust in God?

Pope Francis had this to say in Evangelii Gaudium:

  1. Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news – not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ.”

#9

One more thought…
While I addressed the poverty of spirit in losing spiritual joy as a consequence of constant exposure to internet bad guys, I neglected to comment on the physical aspects.

One day when I was simply “reading” these posts, and not making any reply, I checked my blood pressure and noted that it was up 40 points!! Continual daily stress such as this cannot but do serious harm to the body over time. I have learned that those who are adamant in their opinion, generally will NOT change it, no matter how many excellent proofs or background information one supplies. One such individual even had the nerve to contact me by private messaging to continue the harassment, despite the thread being closed.

So a word to the wise … look for greener pastures, as Ps. 23 says,
“Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
Amen, as Our Lord said, these “bad guys” have received their “reward.” (Satisfaction in believing they have won a document war!)


#10

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.