Are we losing a direct connection with the world around us?

There is a downside to this age of media. It is a drawback that leaves people and communities poorer in many ways.

A medium exists in order to make a connection that would otherwise not be possible. A road between two places or the ability to speak to someone many miles away. The internet enables connection in ways we could barely have dreamt of 50 years ago.

A medium replaces something. A phone conversation replaces the need to be physically present with the person, a book replaces the need to listen to the voice of the storyteller, the storyteller replaces the need to go through the experience for ourselves.

These media help to open up our view of the world in ways that are vastly enriching. When we watch David Attenborough’s Life on Earth, the narrative and photography take us to the most extraordinary places and show that we are only a part of a vast and delicate ecosystem. So what’s not to like about electronic and other media?

If we are to experience the world for ourselves and to fully participate in it then we have to have a sense of our location. If we locate ourselves in a virtual environment created by someone else then we become less human. Yes, it is important that we see ourselves through the eyes of another, but it is also important that we see, feel, smell, hear and taste the physical world around us. It is important that we take our physical being along roads and across boundaries. Children who only see the world on a screen are less likely to have an authentic relationship with those around them – even worse they can have their identity shaped by commercial and other interests intent on manufacturing mindless consumers of packaged values.

People who can really see the world and examine it – the poets, artists, writers, inventors – bring so much vitality to being human. We can enjoy the messages and insights they bring, but let us all find our own expression and be artists in our own way. Where we are.

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email mark.waddington@leeds.anglican.org