A *recent article in The Atlantic caught my attention. Its title, “We’re Already Living in the Metaverse,” is striking. The subtitles are even stronger: “Reality is blurred. Boredom is intolerable. And everything is entertainment.” Some reactions…..
What Atlantic staff writer Megan Garber observes about our society—about each of us?—is that we may be so thoroughly immersed in a culture of entertainment that we don’t notice what’s happening to us. More specifically, how our cognitive and emotional skills may be atrophying in the face of the constant distractions of entertaining stimuli. She weaves into her cover story the connections of this phenomenon to current news stories and other societal trends—e.g., conspiracy theories, mistrust and misinformation—that bedevil our daily lives and our relationships with others.
The article is familiar territory to those of us who have been alarmed by social media addictions, mental illness among teens or the clouding of integrity among leaders. Less-familiar—and perhaps less-noticed are the possible effects of distracting technologies that rob us of our identities and capabilities. That may even change our brains physically.
My thoughts move to other realms of human existence, including to congregations where we find God’s wisdom and core purpose. It seems entirely possible that our society’s gradual disintegration into reality-blurred life might find its way into our gatherings in God’s name. That together we could be unwitting participants in an entertainment-soaked view of “happiness” or well-being.
Garber’s writing stops short of naming this phenomenon as essentially a spiritual matter, but that gap can easily be closed when we examine ourselves in the light of Law and Gospel. When we wrestle with St. Paul’s invitation for the Church to remain counter-cultural. When we lament lovingly alongside pleasure-seekers who have come to the end of their ropes. When we insist on following Christ’s way.
The article felt to me like the beginning of focused, clear-eyed Lenten disciplines—the kind of thoughts and actions that lead us to confession. To repentance. To seeking forgiveness.
*The March 2023 issue. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2023/03/tv-politics-entertainment-metaverse/672773/?utm_medium=cr&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=march_issue_promo_actives_march_2023_winner&utm_content=Final&utm_term=ALL%20Active%20Subscribers%20%28Stripe%2BCDS%2BiTunes%29
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