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Catholic Vancouver March 27, 2019

Rampant tech is undermining relationships, faith: playwright

By Agnieszka Ruck

Pat Cash with an old-fashioned paper and pencil. Cash, a retired IT consultant, worries about the effects new technologies are having on social interaction and religious attendance. (Submitted photo)

In his 82 years, playwright Pat Cash has watched the rapid advance of technology, and he’s worried about where it’s going.

retired IT consultant for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Cash believes increased use of smart devices and artificial intelligence leads to shallow relationships, decreased interest in religion, and indifference. “I see very young people, 3, 4, 5, years old, going on smartphones. I went to a restaurant and the father was there with three kids; each of them had smartphones and they weren’t talking to each other,” Cash told The B.C. Catholic.

“I thought: ‘Oh gosh. This is what’s going to happen. They are going to be (so) enraptured with the games and the mental games going on with them, that they won’t care about what other people think about them and won’t think about them. They will become indifferent.’”

His many concerns for the future of technology have driven Cash to write a trilogy of short plays, titled Life Glimpses: Social Interaction Throughout the Ages, on how the digital world and social interaction have evolved and with his predictions for the future.

The religious question, for him, is a serious one. “We can see there is a drop-off of people going to church and going to Mass, and it’s going to go further,” he said, blaming this in part on the indifference he worries comes hand in hand with increased media consumption.

“We are seeing so many young people not practising and not getting married in the Church! It’s only a matter of time before they say, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ and their friends say, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ and it’s going to drop off.”

The tech specialist picked up playwriting after he retired to “relieve boredom,” and has published several plays in recent years. “First and foremost, it gives me something to do,” said Cash, who doesn’t make money off his plays.

His play Wondrous Life (originally published in 2016) tackled difficult questions surrounding prayer, love, and eternity through a dialogue between a child and his grandfather. Now, his 2019 trilogy Life Glimpses keeps up the serious tone with an analysis of technology, relationship, and life and death, but set in the years 1919, 2019, and 2119.

“I’m hoping that people will become conscious that there is a danger” in constant media use and the rapid advances of technology, said Cash. He has made the trilogy available for free online for anyone wishing to read or perform it.

Cash is a resident of Delta but spends the winter months in Casa Grande, Ariz., where he has entered several playwriting competitions. Wondrous Life was one of five finalists in a 2016 contest. Life Glimpses can be read online for free at ISSUU.com or ordered on Amazon.