It is basic science that what we put into our body affects our body. If we put healthy food into our body and have adequate exercise, generally our bodies stay healthy. If we put unhealthy food into our bodies and have inadequate exercise, generally our bodies will become unhealthy. 

Eating unhealthily is very common and very easy to do. Because of our attraction to the taste of unhealthy food, we tend to choose what we eat based on how food tastes rather than how the food will keep my body healthy. As a result, we have a large percentage of unhealthy people in America. In a similar manner, it would seem that there are a large number of unhealthy souls in America.

Jesus tells us that the eyes are the lamp to the soul (Matthew 6:22). What we see affects our spiritual lives. I would also propose that the ears have a similar function to the soul, and Jesus and St. Paul agree to this point when they denounce gossip. In an age of massive media consumption, what we see and what we hear affects the soul.  If we view, watch, or listen to things that are wholesome, good, true, and beautiful then our souls will tend towards holiness. If we view, watch, or listen to things that are sinful or not truthful, then our souls will tend to be unholy. 

The uniqueness of the current time period from previous ages is that never before did someone have the ability to consume various forms of entertainment every second of every day from the moment they were born until their final breath. Since the 2010s, every child that has been born (as long as their physical needs are met) could conceivably waste their entire life in front of a screen. While no one spends every second in front of a screen, there has been a rise in screen time amongst all generations, some averaging 7-8 hours a day. This is problematic because even if good, holy, and true content is being consumed, it is not real life. An overabundance in the virtual space of streaming and social media is not conducive to a life of love in Christ. Just as the body should not overeat healthy food, so should a Christian not over indulge in ‘healthy’ media. 

But our culture is generally not consuming healthy media. As a whole, it is consuming trash or ‘junk food’ consistently. Social media has become a place of narcissism, domination, and exploitation. While social media may be used for good, its algorithms thrive on the vices of the passions. The same goes for streaming services. Movies and shows often showcase sin as an attraction to their storyline. In the excuse of watching a compelling story, we often consume visual media that encourages us to sympathize or cheer for sin. The same can be said for music. In the interest of a catchy tune or a sick beat, we listen, dance and sing along to songs that encourage a hedonistic lifestyle and/or sexual immorality. 

Why do we do this? Usually the answer is, ‘one song or show is not going to affect me.’ Sure, one song about adultery is not going to inspire us to become an adulterer. One action movie which shows multiple killings is probably not going to inspire us to become murderers. But both forms of media are going to affect our souls, particularly the spiritual life. Returning to forms of entertainment that glorify sin will hamper our ability to hear God and desensitize our love for others. We may not believe it, but it is true. Just as what we eat affects our bodies, what media we consume affects the soul. 

What is the solution? I am not advocating that we all become luddites. Rather, we need to find virtue and moderation in our entertainment. We must limit our time in front of a screen AND make sure what we consume is oriented to the good, true, and holy. Real life is meant to be lived in love with other people in pursuit of our heavenly homeland with God. This means any interaction with screens should be aiding this mission, not distracting it. While there are plenty of nuances to this complex media driven world we find ourselves in, the simple question we can ask ourselves is this: Is what I am watching/listening to helping me know Jesus? If the answer is yes, more power to you. If the answer is no, it needs to come to an end.



At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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