by Bishop Richard Pates, DISC Episcopal Moderator

E-mail came on the scene with all its admirable strengths – convenient, fast, reasonable, expansive, and widespread contact.  It has tremendous advantages and offers limitless opportunities for communication in a myriad of circumstances.  Email quickly became a most welcome technological marvel of our times.

As email became the order of the day, some drawbacks have become increasingly apparent.  The technology itself is not at fault but rather its application by us the operators.  An organization such as DISC, created to serve Catholic dioceses ought to be concerned with such dimensions of poor use and occasional abuse and be prominent in helping to craft an “ethic” of email at its best.

Misuse and problematic experiences with email are becoming familiar:

  • Flooding a network of correspondents with what are considered “humorous” or “compelling” stories that in fact are annoying and an imposition on those who are the “victims” on the receiving end
  • Jamming cyberspace (and our computers!) with unwanted advertising and marketing, which is becoming a variation of junk mail and nuisance calls
  • Wasting enormous amounts of time in a work situation in personal communications or distracting contacts with unrelated websites
  • Forever failing to close the loop of consultation and thus impeding decision making on a timely basis
  • Expressing anger and unhealthy sentiments that would never occur in face-to-face or more direct methods of communication and which create significant problems in relationships.

As email becomes embedded in our communication system and as we begin to see certain limitations and drawbacks, I suggest that we who are involved at the Church or religious level should take a step forward with a critique and offer suggestions for an ethic that will enable us to utilize this undisputed marvel under a banner with the highest of standards.