Art: Jeff Faust
From Monsignor Pope on Sinful Curiosity:
Curiosity is one of those qualities of the human person that are double-edged swords. It can cut a path to glory or it can be like a dagger of sin that cuts deep into the soul.
Of itself, curiosity can be a magnificent quality, rooted in the gifts of wonder and awe as well as in the deeply profound gift of man’s intellect or rational nature.
However, as a double-edged sword, curiosity can also wound us very deeply and mire us in serious sin. Indeed, it can be a very sinful drive within us. Eve grew curious of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus Satan was easily able to turn her curiosity into a deep dagger that has reached every human heart.
Understood this way (as a sinful drive), curiosity is a desire to gain knowledge of things we have no right to know. A more mitigated form of sinful curiosity is the desire to know things that are in no way useful to us. In this sense, curiosity is a form of spiritual gluttony that exposes us to innumerable tricks of the evil one.
Sinful curiosity causes us to meddle in the lives of others, to pry. This can then lead us to gossip, potentially defaming others and ruining reputations in the process. Nothing is a bigger invitation to sin and gossip than the phrase “Have you heard the latest news about so-and-so?” Heads turn, ears perk up, and meddlesome curiosity is immediately incited.
Almost never is the news that follows such a question positive or even edifying. Sinful curiosity is at the root of almost all gossip, defamation, slander, and even calumny.
Ninety percent of what we hear through gossip is none of our business. And yet, through sinful curiosity, somehow we feel that we have the right to this information.
There is a whole branch of news, barely distinguishable from gossip columns and scandal sheets, that has emerged based on the people’s “right to know.” Too much secrecy can be unhealthy but that is hardly the problem in this day and age. Today, too many people know too many things about too many people. Even what is reported (most of it unnecessary) about so-called public figures is not really helpful for us to know. This is not to say we should have no concerns whatsoever about what is happening in the world or about the character of our leaders; rather, it is an invitation to distinguish between what is truly useful and necessary for us to know and that which is simply rooted in sinful curiosity. - Monsignor PopeI'm convinced this is a huge part of the problem with social media users and the tendency to obsess over the lives and sayings of others, adding to the confusion generated by some lay Catholics online.
People who search and search other's blog archives to find something on them ... when they Google another blogger's name, search for photos, work experience, where they live, who they know, who they link to in an effort to discredit them or expose them. Ever heard of people doing that? The guy who wrote about me did that - and he wrote about me and discussed me with others in emails and on forums. He did it with other bloggers as well. A lot of social media users do the same thing. How do I know this? I've done it too.
Très curieux, eh?