24 August 2018
Dublin: Marco Brusati

Analogic Time in the Digital Age: A Difficult but not impossible Conquest

“Biblical Wisdom suggests to us that ‘there is a time to be born and a time to die (...) a time to cry and a time to laugh (...) a time to be silent and a time to speak’ (Qohelet 3). Does this ‘time to’—that is a dedicated and finalized time—still exist at the turn of the 20th and 21st century?”

With this question, Marco Brusati, a lecturer at the University of Florence in the master “Institutional Advertising” and director of Hope Music School, opened his lecture at the Theological-Pastoral Congress in Dublin, on the panel session dedicated to “The Family that Prays Together: Finding Time for Prayer in a Digital Age.”

“Today—he continued—we are traveling towards the mass diffusion of virtual reality (reality without reality) and artificial intelligence (the person without a person); in the meantime, the phase of global diffusion of tablets (smartphones, pads, and hybrids) that work without connecting cables and have cut the umbilical cord that kept us tied to something or someone, is coming to an end. In this situation, which is making Christian families experience the crisis of the traditio - receptio - redditio process, even time has been transformed from analogic to digital.”

Brusati then listed the main aspects of this transformation:

“1) Hypertrophy of the future: in analogic time there is a past that teaches (historia magistra vitae), a present to be lived, a future to be prepared and then delivered; in the digital time, the past is past-passed and unusable (‘what was, has been!’), while the present has value as ‘not-as-present’, but ‘already-future’ (mythology of infinite progress).

2) Multitasking: in analogic time, actions follow one another in a sequential and hierarchical manner (e.g., studying, learning, applying knowledge in the workplace); in digital time, actions occur simultaneously in a casual manner and have equal value (for example: responding to a chat during a family meal or at work, or during a Eucharistic celebration).

3) Fragmentation: analogic time is linear (e.g., in monotheistic religions), cyclic (e.g., in oriental philosophies and/or religions) or spiral (e.g., in the Hegelian-Marxist model); digital time is fragmented into non-sequential moments that are not necessarily interrelated.

4) Expropriation: the analogic time belongs to the who lives it; digital time is for those who produce digital tools and contents that dictate rhythms, needs, and contents on a global level.”

This transition, the expert added, “is also having consequences for families who are looking for time to pray. Here are some:

1) traditional prayers (as well as the tradition, in short) are considered part of the past and not of the present;

2) difficulty in understanding the necessity of dedicating time exclusively to prayer;

3) difficulty finding the meaning of prayer in the relation with other actions and events in life;

4) the owners of digital time consider prayer an irrational act for the gullible.”

In conclusion, for Brusati “the first step to take is to start reclaiming the time in analogic terms, returning to having ‘time to’, as Biblical wisdom tells us. This is a difficult but not impossible conquest.”