Monday, September 28, 2015

Catholic Hermit on Internet Boundaries

In addition to temporal, physical boundaries, a hermit of the 21st century needs to consider internet boundaries.  Anonymity is very important, it would seem.  Anonymity is an aide to keeping the vice of pride at bay.  However, if writing is one's gift and part of one's calling, then there are other safeguards for the internet use besides remaining anonymous.

The internet can be marvelous in expressing one's thoughts, mostly for oneself, but also if others happen upon something that seems of value and interest to them.  For hermits to write otherwise, such as with hopes of being noticed, recognized, receiving internet awards or whatever, can once more lead to pride.  These aspects can then devalue the value of the honest expression of thoughts and experiences, that were so helpful to begin with.

Setting boundaries also includes safeguards so that one does not get caught off guard or distracted by others' issues, opinions, agreements, disagreements.  Email and other social media sites have the capability to block others.  These are the equivalents to fences and gates, and through trial and error, a hermit can discern when blocking access and interaction is necessary and for the best for all parties concerned.

Most blog servers allow for screening.  One can allow comments for some but not all.  There is also the option of allowing email contact, but then being able to block those who have spurious intentions, anger issues, or obscene tendencies. There are actually protective orders available in many states that cover internet stalking and can be easily attained.  Documentation is simple since online stalking is easily shown and traced.

However, there are benefits and virtues to be developed by simply learning to ignore, pray for, be patient with, have mercy upon, and persevere with one's objectives and missions, when it comes to setting boundaries.  Each hermit probably should assess each situation as it arises.

As in the temporal, physical world, with people who can tend to intrude into the hermit's space and time needed for prayer, reflection, rest, and work, the internet has these same potential intruders.  (Is it not enough for a hermit to deal with spiritual intrusions within the mind and heart and soul?  Yes, indeed!)  Just as there can be in the spiritual realm and in the hermit's cell and surrounding space, the niggling poltergeists and taunts of the evil one in varying degrees, there can be "human poltergeist" types--and also "internet poltergeist" types.  These are those strangers from who-knows-where who float about the web and can tend to latch on, become obsessive, and distract in positive and negative ways, both.

Thus, setting boundaries is most important.  Keeping anonymity helps, but if others on the internet begin to make themselves known in a nuisance type way or intrusive, or distractive ways, then blocking access or also blocking oneself from noticing, serves a very good purpose to keep the thoughts and writings more focused on the topics being discussed, and seeking more the inner nudges of what is unfolding rather than in reaction to what other is out there in the internet world.

It takes a certain discipline and also discernment of spirits to determine when and how and with whom to set boundaries.  What kind of boundaries are helpful and must one keep them set in place always?  These questions are best answered by the individual hermits and through their personal discernment of spirits process, as well as if necessary, some input and guidance from spiritual directors or others.

For this consecrated Catholic hermit, it has been a benefit to learn to set boundaries but also to set limits on itself, such as to not read much if anything of what is going on in the internet world but rather to simply use the writing of such as blogs and email correspondence as a tool of communication of thoughts and life experiences.  If there are questions posed or incoming correspondence, then one needs to make a determination of whether or not it is best to open the gate and entertain the exchange.

Hospitality has always been a traditional hallmark of some hermits, not all.  Some hermits traditionally remain very hidden and private.  And, of course, in our time period of easy access such as through the internet and social media, it behooves even a hermit to set some precautions, or troubling and troubled persons can become a distraction of which hermits are not called to deal with but rather to pray about.

As is the case for writers in general, some find helpful doing much reading of what other authors write. It becomes a point of stimulation and also gives ideas as to other styles and content in writing.  For a hermit, it seems a boundary of self-discipline can be set for not reading what others write on the internet or to get involved in other styles of writing.  Reading the Living Word of God, reading of saintly and successful hermits of history, and reading of spiritually uplifting and motivating writings that are tried and tested over time, probably do more for a hermit in his or her own writing.  

Prayer helps the hermit in what to write and how to write and if and when to write, the most.  The writing can become a prayer, of course, and in that, it is between the hermit and God but shared anonymously with those who may happen upon it on the vast internet.  If one has boundaries as to what it takes in and what it blocks, the process can be fruitful for the hermit especially, and perhaps of some use to others.  But this latter aspect is not a requirement nor the main motive of writing and sharing anonymously, with others.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  This Catholic hermit needs to clean out the paint brushes that became gummy from sun and painting up on the porch roof, and get outside to begin some caulking.  When the sun lowers in the sky, the upper level painting may commence.  We do need to make decisions based upon common sense and what is, in the temporal realm, and not let it interfere or distract us from what we need to accomplish....  This is so true of the spiritual realm, as well.

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