Jean-Claude Larchet, Malades des nouveaux médias, [Sick With the New media], Éditions du Cerf, 2016, 329 p.
He first describes these illnesses, then offers suggestions on how to recover or protect oneself from them.
Synopsis by the publisher:
“In our society eager for speed, proximity, immediacy, omnipresent information, and performances of all kinds, what about the richness and meaning of our lives? What is the diagnosis of the body and mind of the homo connecticus? What disturbing pathologies corrode its very nature? And how to fight against this slow and insidious dislocation? Smartphones, social networks, connected objects, digital TV, Internet, video games: the media are today as ubiquitous as they are invading. And their negative effects are blatant in our professional, social, and family lives. Stuck between impoverishment and illusion, nuisance and emptiness, destruction and exhaustion, we are getting disembodied, and space and time disappear in this all-powerful virtuality.
In this well-researched essay, Jean-Claude Larchet continues his series of studies on different types of illnesses and adapted therapies. It is a critical and salutary reflection on our communication systems, as well as an incentive to protect ourselves, and to regain our psychological and spiritual identity.”
Except from the foreword by the author:
“Today, no one denies the positive contribution of the new media in terms of communication, information, and access to culture in its many forms. Soon, no one will be able to do without them, as our society integrates them so much into the mode of operation of its various social, administrative, commercial, educative, and even religious structures.
It is commonly said that their invention caused a revolution comparable to that of electricity and of the new means of transportation.
There is however a great difference between the new media and the other inventions that have profoundly changed our modern life.
No other technology has ever involved our day-to-day activity over such long periods of time, has so much solicited our attention and our intervention in such a constant way, has changed our work conditions and modes as much, has invaded our private, family and personal lives as much, and has penetrated our psychological life as much.
No other technology has transformed our relationships to space and time as much, our way of looking at the world, our relationships with others, our portrayal of ourselves, the nature and pace of our lives, our work and leisure activities, the form of our communication; and the nature, structure, and form of our psychological and intellectual life.
And no other technology, by the influence exerted on all these ways of being that are the fabric of our existence, has had as much impact on our spiritual life.
Many books and articles have touted the advantages and benefits of these new media. The purpose of this essay is not to provide additional praise, which would be redundant and superfluous. But rather, which is more rare and actually more useful, the goal here is to invite the readers to a critical reflection on the use of these new means of communication, that have become invasive and proven to have many negative effects. Indeed, their users are not always aware of the full impact on themselves, on their children and on their loved ones.
Considering the current excesses and the dark prospects of our future, a change of society seems desirable. However, because of the emergency of the issue, our goal here is first of all pragmatic: by raising a better awareness of the drifts the new media can cause, and of their actual and potential pathological consequences, our aim is to teach the readers how to control and limit their use, when they produce adverse effects.
For this purpose, this essay will first focus on establishing the diagnosis and prognosis of pathologies generated by the new media in the various spheres of social life (political, economic, and cultural areas), and especially on a personal level (in the realm of the body, the psyche, the intellect, and the spirit), as they seriously infringe on our lives, and go as far as to modify the very nature of humankind in a disturbing way. At the end, we will propose some therapeutic and prophylactic remedies.
Aware of the seriousness of the disease that affects our civilization, users will be able to organize a resistance to it, which will lead to a decrease in production. Then we will be able to contemplate a change in society, a change that will give back to communication the authentically human and spiritual dimension that it has lost. “