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There is a difference between "truth" and "information." We are deluged with the latter. We are starved for the former. On social media, we have much access to information about people but not the truth of their essence. Meanwhile, it has become nearly impossible to access objective and clean media. Surely you have noticed how hard it is to view secular news items without contaminating the spirit. A constant trial: attempting to keep abreast of what's proceeding in the world (as far as signs of our times) without viewing lustful news photographs or salacious ads or come-hither Facebook faces. In fact, these ads may be okay one moment and then are changed later in the day to something risqué. On one major liberal news website is an article on army wives who are posing lewdly. On a major conservative one -- amid all the serious items (including religious news, plus self-righteous views) -- is a photograph of an actress that says, "She's got legs!" It's important to train the eye away. And it's not hard to do, with a little discipline. It is also important to swerve away from gossip.

Equally contaminating are the caustic or vulgar comments in that box or "blog" at the end of many articles, which one should likewise avoid. More often than not, they include and often begin with something profane, especially if the article involves politics or the Catholic Church, in which case they are not just harsh but often suffused with blasphemy. We must rein in the eye as we do amid the magazines at the supermarket.

For such comments -- and too many blogsites and often news columnists -- seem intent on upsetting. Everyone wants to grab someone by the throat -- particularly if they have indicated the slightest signs of disagreement. The internet has become the internasty. (Sometimes, this includes Catholic sites.)

Everything has become a cult and everything a game of tackle -- of football -- which is now more a religion than a past-time (a denomination of Materialism).

The other day, a bus driver posted a sign saying that a presidential candidate should have been aborted. And what about bumper-stickers?

As Father Louis J. Cameli of the Chicago archdiocese points out, the word for the devil in Greek is diabolos, which comes from diaballein, which means "to throw through" (or divide). It also comes about when we are deluged with data but not verity. "The mix-up and confusion of truth and information reach into very personal dimensions of life," says this insightful priest in The Devil You Don't Know. "Today's computerized social networks open up undreamed possibilities for human connections. That represents a fundamental human good. There is, however, a potential for misunderstanding and misuse in social networking. The computerized presentation of people to each other basically offers information about people and not the truth of people. The devil can readily use this confusion between information about people and the truth of people to great advantage in sowing seeds of disharmony and even deep antagonism." And so it is in our time:  A major source of division is what Father Cameli calls "negative identification." "Human groups can formulate an identity, sometimes a very strong identity, based on what or whom they stand against," he writes. "The division from others stems from a self-or-group-defining process. This kind of negatively-based identity can be very powerful, even in larger settings. It guarantees clear lines of division and separation."

It is also part, perhaps, of what Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima called our "diabolical disorientation."  We think of ourselves as kind, but we enjoy harsh internet rhetoric. We want to seem humane, but we tolerate abortion (the killing of infants). We want to seem Christ-like, but we pay less attention to the Vatican than to the latest news from Wall Street.  We want to be humble, but we lust for status. "Participation in the kingdom of God, according to Jesus, demands the renunciation of privileged status by becoming like a little child and receiving the Kingdom as a child," writes Father Cameli. "Blessed are the poor," said Jesus (Matthew 6:20). "Take care! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (12:15, 32-34). We cannot be Christian and harsh, Christian and lustful, Christian and materialistic, Christian and divisive, Christian and hating anyone. It doesn't have to be the "internasty." It can be the "internice" -- even while standing for the right thing without compromise. No one is convinced to change one's view based on harsh verbiage. Kindness is potent because it is active love. One kind word, one kind smile, one gesture, is often enough to serve as a catalyst. We don't see it, but the world changes around us.

[resources: The Devil You Don't Know] 

[see also from today, 10/12/12, You are what you speak and Risqué photos on Facebook led to stabbing]

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[Footnote: Meanwhile, we are obsessed with money -- against which the Vatican, which has no political affiliation, has so often warned, as few listen. "The world overall finds itself under assault by the destructive and divisive forces of the evil one," adds Father Cameli. "One way to view this is to consider the world of money, the world of power, and the world of status. In each of these worlds, the evil one can try to dominate and divide. The world of money is a ripe field both for destruction and division. Recent events in the world of finance highlight practices that created havoc in the lives of countless people. It is one thing to subject this current crisis to economic analysis, which can in its own way provide an explanation for the situation in which we find ourselves. It is another thing to step behind the crisis and understand its spiritual origins. In this more interior and less obvious range, we discover a great paradox. People who have the technical and rational skills to manipulate markets do so driven by irrational greed, because they could never really use all the money that they would garner through their corrupt activity. It is a case of reason in the service of the irrational. At the macro-level, the evil one uses the worlds of money, power, and status to divide people from each other and from God. The fact that the Holy Father's voice and moral assessment are alone and apart by themselves speaks to the significant presence of evil in our world economic situation. The rich and poor now live so separately that they are invisible to each other."]

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