Pope urges to make a new year resolution for no smartphone during dinner

Pope Francis has called on families everywhere to communicate and get off their phones at the dinner table.

Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church pastor The Rev. Sean Horrigan said he believes the Holy Father is asking people to be awake and attentive to each other.

“It’s kind of a self-emptying,” said Fr. Horrigan. “To disengage, it’s kind of like a Kenosis—a self-emptying, like Christ on the cross. When we empty ourselves out and we’re fully attentive, undivided to the other person, it’s really an act of devotion, not only to that person, in respect, but ultimately an act of devotion to God.”

At the dinner table, he suggested asking everyone from the oldest to the youngest—

“Let’s talk about the day. ‘What was the best thing that happened to you today? Where did you see Christ in one another today? What brought joy to your heart today?’,” said Fr. Horrigan.

Rejoice Counseling Apostolate parish counselor Larry Freeney said technological advances are a double edged sword—both a blessing and a curse.

The scene is all too familiar—people sitting around the table for a meal, not talking because their nose is in their phone in their own cyberworld.

He said the superficial level of connectivity is replacing the genuine, human connection we’re called to have.

Back in the day, the dinner table was where families learned about each other.

"It's where we all went out and lived our individual days, but we came together at the dinner table. And, it was a place we could really share our experiences," said Freeney.

He said the dinner table is probably important to Pope Francis because it’s where we come together. It’s where we break bread.

"Jesus had his disciples, he had his people around him. He didn't leave them messages and said, 'alright, I'll see you later', right? He was there with them, he ate with them, he broke bread with them," said Freeney.

He called it “technology induced depression” is due to people who are on social media not feeling adequate or good enough because they’re comparing their real lives to someone else’s best mirage, which has been edited. When that happens, it creates a chasm of an unrealistic standard of life. In social media, comparison is the robber of joy, people are not living their life, they’re watching other people live their life.

Freeney compared social media interaction to eating heavily processed foods.

“You can still eat it, you can still consume it, but your body knows the difference. You don’t get as much from the processed food. The same way here, you don’t get as much from the social media or digital communication,” said Freeney.

As compared to IRL (in real life) communication, is akin to eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

For people who are resolving to disconnect from their electronic devices this year, he suggested to pretend we’re in the 90s, where there were landlines and technology was not at our fingertips.

“You can have the perfect plan, but without execution, it’s useless,” said Freeney.

Teenage girl using cell phone at dinner table

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