Thomas Merton on Social Media?

Somebody pointed me in the direction of this quote from poet and monk Thomas Merton. I thought it spoke to the current vogue for over-sharing (in which I’m a willing and guilty participant):

How tragic it is that they who have nothing to express are continually expressing themselves, like nervous gunners, firing burst after burst of ammunition into the dark where there is no enemy. The reason for their talk is: death. Death is the enemy who seems to confront them at every moment in the deep darkness and silence of their own being. So they keep shouting at death. They confound their lives with noise. They stun their own ears with meaningless words, never discovering that their hearts are rooted in a silence that is not death but life. They chatter themselves to death, fearing life as if it were death.

I read it in A Thomas Merton Reader, edited by Thomas P. McDonnell.


  1. Ah, but what of those, like me, who face death in reality, for whom it might be close at hand? Is it not wise for us to fire into the dark, hoping perhaps to hit a target, that we will be remembered?

    1. Indeed. I’m not necessarily saying I agree with Merton, but I thought it was maybe food for thought.

  2. But … do we need to know that you (the big collective you, not the specific you) had pizza for lunch? Splitting the wheat from the chaffe I guess. You ignore the “why are you telling me this” and grab the “damn, that’s brillian” stuff.

  3. There is certainly an element of truth in the quote as it applies to all of us who are using the internet to spread our thoughts. No, I don’t care if you had pizza for lunch. However, I am looking for like-minded people who will share my interests and broaden my perspective. And I’m hoping that some of you will be interested in my ideas. We no longer need to live in the same geographic area – we have the luxury of sharing ideas with people around the world. Does that mean we’re shouting louder? I don’t think so.

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