Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I Left Facebook Today

I have deactivated my Facebook profile.  It is a matter of privacy.  Basically any and all of your information belongs not to you, but to Facebook, and they will use it in any way they see fit, and sell it to anyone they see fit.
Notice, I couldn’t even delete my account.  I only deactivated it.  It will exist forever, with its information, on Facebook’s servers – and if they find some way to sell or use it, trust me, it will get used.
But what’s the big deal?  I CHOSE to go to Facebook, I CHOSE to give it limited information about me, I’m even on the internet right now with this blog.  So why get upset?
You’re right, I did all those things, and I still maintain a web presence through this blog and email, but I just don’t like the implications of Facebook working in close collaboration with lots of other folks I don’t know, to use and market my information.
They are going to roll out a new LIKE feature.  If you stay logged in to Facebook, which actually is pretty easy – it is difficult to actually log OUT.  As you browse the web, you will be tracked, by Facebook.  When you come to one of their partner sites, read or participate in something, and click the LIKE button, a note appears on your wall so your friends know.  Harmless, right?  Pretty much, except that now Facebook knows more about you, and now that partner site has your permission (by you clicking LIKE) to have access to your entire Facebook life, from day one.  Everything they know about you, every website they know you’ve visited, all your data, and – here’s the kicker – all your friends’ public data.  Yep, even if I don’t want to play, just one of my friends stopping by the site automatically shares out my public data too.  Just a little too much for me.
I was already starting to feel uneasy about the way that Facebook was getting to know me.  It took the info I gave it, and started running its fingers through the web and through itself to sift and find out more.  Folks I hadn’t thought about in years were suddenly being suggested as friends, and it was kind of creepy the way the site could put things together to know more about me.  Of course those folks I knew years ago were also getting little notes about me too.
Yes, this information has almost always been available, but never in such a connected way before.  Facebook is a 24/7 machine that constantly sifts your data and constantly looks for connections to grow in its knowledge of you.  It doesn’t sound or feel insidious until you think through some implications.
- Watch the movie Minority Report.  Not for the plot or acting, but for the way that every person is targeted with personalized advertisement everywhere they go.
- What happens when work and social life begin to collide?  Oh you may never ‘friend’ someone from work – but what happens when one of your friends does?  Or if work decides that Facebook is a perfect place to promote collaboration among employees and the next thing you know you’re being asked to sign up.  You might create a second, alternate identity, but the slightest slip, or one of your other friends makes the connection, and bingo, it all gets linked together.  FOREVER.
- What happens when someone uses or borrows your computer and Facebook is still tracking you?  Your teenaged relative uses it for just a few minutes, and suddenly YOUR web activity shows that you sometimes hang around on teenage chat sites.
- Government subpoena or frivolous lawsuit.  Are you sure that all of your web activity shows you to be the most loyal, hardworking, upstanding citizen that ever existed?  By telling the world about the power of the LIKE button, Facebook made themselves the target of those who want someone’s personal life and web activities made public.
- I personally think a hot new business will be in doing background searches for employees.
- Just imagine your best friend, who knows all your info and life, sitting down, every day with marketing folks and telling them anything and everything they need to know about you in order to help them sell you something.  I like my friends, and invite them to know me better, but I depend on their discretion too.  Facebook publicly states that they do not intend to have that discretion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What We Needed to Hear

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti was the speaker at our Spring Clergy Day yesterday (4-19-2010) for the priests working in our diocese.  He presented some results of a Priest Wellness Study he has done.  In the study he found that:

  • Over 90% of priests report themselves as happy and with good morale.
  • Only 4% of priests believe themselves to be suffering from ‘burnout.’
  • 84% report a strong sense of inner peace.
  • Almost 80% have a positive view of celibacy in their life.  This is much higher than the general population’s positive view of marriage.
  • Just around 3% of priests felt they needed to leave the priesthood in order to be happy.
  • Compare these results to the stereotypical idea of priests as lonely, isolated, frustrated, unhappy, with low morale and are trapped in an unsatisfying life.

When looking for the things that lead a priest to feel happy about his priesthood, he generally found that working toward holiness is the best predictor of happiness.  That may seem obvious when stated, but compare that with what society is telling us that priests should be doing, and it rarely includes steps toward holiness.

He then outlined those 10 steps and we each received a booklet of his steps.

Thank you Msgr. Rossetti, and thank you Bishop Olmsted for bringing him here to tell us this good news.

CREATIVE MINORITY REPORT:Sin and Cafeteria Catholicism

Sin and Cafeteria Catholicism: "I was speaking to a woman I know and she said that a man she knows had stopped going to Church months before and that he didn't believe in many things the Church taught including the Church's stance on contraception. But he still considered himself a good Catholic. Pretty normal stuff nowadays sadly.

The women is a committed Catholic and she said that she'd told him that she wasn't a 'Cafeteria Catholic' but he reminded her of many things she'd done which are against church teaching throughout her life and he said triumphantly, 'See we all pick and choose.'

She said that she'd come to believe what he'd said was true. Now without going into details I told her that her friend was wrong. Very wrong. There is a big difference between sinning and picking and choosing.

We all sin. But that doesn't make us cafeteria Catholics. The real difference is that cafeteria Catholics simply don't acknowledge sin.

While we all transgress, a committed Catholic will still judge themselves against an established standard. We will inevitably fall short of those standards but we still strive to achieve it and emulate ourselves after Christ to the best of our ability.

The cafeteria Catholic may act in very much the same manner as a faithful Catholic but simply removes all that striving. When confronted with a discrepancy between their will and the teachings of the Church they simply change the standards based on what they feel is right for them. And let's face it, when we set our own fungible standards, sin becomes impossible because our decision making becomes the standard of behavior.

We all fall short of the standard. The cafeteria catholic just lowers the standard.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Phoenix Parish Worker and Priest Stabbed

The stabbing occurred yesterday (4-15-2010).  The newspaper and television link are below.

Let us pray for the recovery of Mrs. Conway, Fr. Conlon, and the man who was arrested, Mr. Manriquez.  Let us also pray and thank God for the young people who heard Mrs. Conway’s screams, and then pursued and held the alleged attacker until the police could arrive.

Both Mrs. Conway and Fr. Conlon are recovering and some surgery was required.

Parish work is not always safe and secure.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

We are not amused

I’m not a fan of April Fools’ Day, and no this is not a joke and not part of the “fun.”  An entire day when I cannot trust the veracity of anything from anyone.  Already I’m seeing, all over the internet some attempts at fooling us all.  One example was another priest’s blog in which he announced he was leaving his religious order.

Yes, buried in his post was a link to the Wikipedia entry on April Fools’ Day – which means the entire post was a joke.  I looked at all the comments to his post.  the first dozen or so were offering real heartfelt prayers and support – all of which were genuine.  Then they started revealing that this was indeed a joke.

What is funny about that?  Getting people concerned enough to offer prayer for a difficult and painful decision about leaving a religious order, only to tell them that they are fools for believing you.

Maybe this comes from a gag I played on someone years ago – which I thought was uproariously funny at the time – but in hindsight was terribly cruel.

There are sites I go to for humor, and I enjoy them – but I’m reminded that the Lord has not granted everyone the same comedic gifts.

Oh this little rant isn’t going to change anything, and today will be much more about pranks and gags than about the fact that it is Holy Thursday.  I will follow the sage Catholic advice – I’ll “offer it up.”