By Jessica Fahy, Spiritual Direction, Feb. 24, 2020
Might the capital sin of acedia (also known as sloth) be an underlying cause of one’s incessant and obsessive use of media?
WHAT IS ACEDIA?
St. Thomas Aquinas defines acedia as “sorrow at the good and disgust with activity.” He also says it’s a “sluggishness” of the mind and will “which neglects to begin good” [Summa Theologiae, Q. 35].
Acedia can manifest through the avoidance of the duties in our state in life or a repugnance to do good works. It leads us not to do what one ought to be doing when they ought to be doing it.
Acedia can manifest spiritually as well. It makes spiritual things distasteful to us or view them as a labor too difficult to perform. So, we become tainted with a tinge of sadness because we do not (or falsely think we cannot) do that spiritually good work. As a result, we turn to worldly pleasures and worldly things for satisfaction. It takes work to pick up a spiritual book or listen to a spiritual talk when we’d rather zone out and do nothing; it can be quite an effort to go against our wayward will. It takes work to spend solitude in prayer or go to daily Mass when we’d rather use our busy-ness as an excuse why “we can’t” or “don’t have time.” These can all be masks for spiritual sloth.
However my purpose in writing this post is not to go through all the manifestations of it, but rather how exactly this vice relates to our use of media. By media, I am referring mostly to technology – internet browsing, iPads, computers, laptops, smartphones, iPhones, music, radio, social media, news outlets (good Catholic ones included!), streaming services (Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime), Kindles, TV, texting and all that could fall under those umbrellas. ….