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Computers contain filth, are bad for the soul, the pope says

Technically Incorrect: In his latest comments about technology, Pope Francis is scathing about what technology is doing to mankind.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Pope Francis, crusader against filth Franco Origlia/Getty Images

One day, they'll make blockbuster movies about this.

They'll be not unlike "Gladiator" or "Spartacus." They'll begin: "Based On A True Story."

The bad guys taking over the world will be machines and nerds. The guys we're supposed to root for will be Apple CEO Tim Cook and Pope Francis.

Cook has been railing against the lack of privacy online, calling it an issue of morality. He's been defending humanity, as it gives up the fight to stay human. Now, as Robin to his Batman, comes Pope Francis.

In his latest remarks about technology, the head of the Roman Catholic Church was scathing on the subject of computers.

As Vatican radio reported Sunday, he was asked about how much time people should spend online and watch TV.

He replied: "There are two different elements here: method and content. Regarding the method or way of doing things, there is one that is bad for the soul and that is being too attached to the computer."

Who among us hasn't felt trapped by how much time we spend online? Who among us hasn't felt hooked to surf just one more page, though we know we should turn away and go read a book, meditate or shout obscenities at a neighbor?

Who among us hasn't wished at least once that we could disappear to an island, where Wi-Fi is verboten?

The pope, however, isn't just worried about all this wasted time. He said: "[T]here is a lot of filth that ranges from pornography to semi-pornographic content, to programs that are empty, devoid of values."

We will never know if he was specifically referring to the "Real Housewives" series or perhaps to "The Bachelor," where contestants are routinely placed in alluring situations and encouraged toward carnal behavior.

It would be also instructive to learn where semi-porn ends and full porn begins. Is it the FCC version of the sight of a female nipple, perhaps?

Still, the pope made it clear that he's an absolutist about these media things. He called consumerism "a cancer of society." Relativism is a killer too, apparently.

Some, though, might wonder how the pope knows about all the filthy porn online and the soul-suckingness of TV shows.

Recently, he declared that he hasn't watched TV for 25 years and doesn't surf the Web. Does he depute priests to waft around sites of ill-repute, to check just how filthy they are? It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it, I suppose.

How important is it to know exactly what's out there to judge how harmful it could be?

Critics of his own church might wonder whether certain actual events involving priests over the past few decades or more have been at least as "filthy" as anything you might find online.

Still, he's surely right about the inner discomfort many humans feel about never being able to get away from an electronic world that has enveloped them so swiftly. And he's not entirely against pleasure. On Monday, the pope told Puerto Rican bishops that they should drink wine and tell the truth.

As for judgments of morality, though, we must each make our own.

We must simply prepare, in the event of an afterlife, to admit to a young man with wings: "Yes, I'm sorry. I binge-watched 'The Good Wife' and 'House Of Cards,' two shows that do contain certain elements of filth. Or, at least, semi-filth."