The new information and communication technologies are part of our daily, family and community life. But… Are they good or bad? It is difficult to answer this question categorically because they are resources that offer us many opportunities and, at the same time, pose some risks. Everything depends on the use, or abuse, that is made of them.
The Second Vatican Council’s decree on the means of social communication (Inter mirifica) recognizes the benefits of the media at our disposal and encourages us to own them and use them for good and to proclaim the Word of God to the great masses of people.
Arnold Janssen was aware that the media should be used to promote his missionary ideas. He once said, “The pastor of souls has to use all the means that the signs of the times dictate.”
In his message for this year’s World Communications Day, Pope Francis admitted that the new technologies, with their innumerable social expressions, can multiply the ability to recount and share facts and events.
Paragraph 46 of the document of the 18th General Chapter speaks of the immense possibilities offered by the new technologies for the first and new evangelization and for sharing our spirituality.
When put to good use, digital media become positive tools in our daily lives as religious and missionaries. And it makes us all responsible as users and consumers.
It is an evidence that the new communication and information technologies bring us closer and closer, but at the same time they distance us from each other.
Experience shows that instead of promoting community life, the new technologies sometimes favor isolation and individualism. Some of us spend many hours looking at our cell phones, even when we have someone in front of us. We neglect close relationships and take care of virtual relationships. It is true that new technologies offer us many opportunities, but they can also create virtual simulations, illusions, fantasies and fictions that distract us and take us away from our vocation and mission and from community life.
As Divine Word Missionaries, our engagement with the new information and communication technologies calls us to step out of ourselves, out of our narcissism to encounter the other – who is of a different culture, creed or socio-economic situation than our own. Communicating in this context is the action of putting something in common whether in a virtual or physical space; human communication, whatever the medium, must establish real and true links between people.
Are we aware of the time we spend on social networks and cell phones?
Do the new technologies bring us closer or distance us from each other?
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