Fr. Tom, 03-26-17

Dear Loyola Parishioners & Visitors:
I have been contemplating all week the statement made by an author who claimed a high number of those who work in Silicon Valley, who found and/or manage tech companies, who are developing social media, have an autism spectrum disorder.  He discovered this by noting many Silicon Valley business leaders about whom he was writing in tech magazines had children who had an autism spectrum disorder.  He posited that much of social media is designed and created by those who live in autism spectrum worlds.

As we know, autism frequently impacts individuals’ interpersonal relationship and communication skills.  They may struggle with how to make friends and interact with others, including family members.  They
may struggle with interpersonal communication.  They may seem to live in their own world as people sometimes say of those who don’t tend to get along according to societal norms and expectations.

And, that, is what I am ruminating about all this week.  The prevalence of social media and technology has influenced how people relate to one another.  People are less interpersonally connected to one another, even when in the same room.  Communication is by text, not phone call or by in person conversation.  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram postings have replaced written letters and increasingly emails.  Cultural critics have noted these phenomena, but I had never given it much thought that those who live in the world of Silicon Valley are creating a world in which they are comfortable and in the process creating new social and cultural norms that match their own as others in the position to influence society have done so in the past and continue to do so.  The new norms are being created in large part by those who live along the autism spectrum if his thesis is correct.  Fascinating.

Fr. Tom