You’d think that religion and science have separate ways, but there are certain points where these two intertwine. And here’s one such good example. With the occasion of the 48th World Communications Day, Pope Francis issued an official statement, calling the Internet a “gift from God” and a facilitator of communications between people of different faiths and backgrounds. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, had also expressed his openness towards technology, as we have seen him tweeting from an iPad.
Pope Francis praised the internet for the “immense possibilities” that it offers but he also warned about the challenges that digital connectivity brings. He said that “the desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us”, which definitely contains an important lesson. After all, we must take everything with moderation. In his statement, Pope Francis referred to media, but highlighted the Internet:
In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
And here are his warnings:
The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.
The speed of social media makes it difficult for users to engage in self-reflection which I’ve observed myself especially the teenagers. The desire and the ordinariness of posting things on their Facebook accounts slowly expose their intimacy and don’t leave room for self introspection. They act as if everybody needs to know what they have done and that’s why we need to approach this with care. We must use the Internet exactly as the pope describes it – as a gift from God. What do you think?