►Signis Philippines has spearheaded a forum open to all Catholic media practitioners to understand and appreciate the challenge of social media. New digital media have allowed everyone who has access the ability to publish their own content and choose what matters to them.
They have considerably changed journalism and the public space where information is derived.
How can church groups use these digital platforms to spread ‘The Word” Or their application in the promotion of Causes for Beatification and Canonization, for instance?
Keynote Address by Cardinal Tagle
The keynote address for the forum on “Catholic Media in Challenging Times” on Jan. 19, 2018, was delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle at the Layforce Auditorium, San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe in Makati City.
He recalled the prescient observations on mass communications media that were included in the records of Vatican Council II (convened as a means of spiritual renewal for the Catholic Church, 1962-1965), written in 1963 before the emergence of many of today’s digital media, evaluating the challenges, opportunities and pitfalls of new information technologies.
While he praised social media and its great potential for evangelization, Cardinal Tagle observed that modern man’s immersion in the digital world could be leading him back to silence and reflection.
Tagle also conceded that while social media opens up opportunities for “solidarity, growing in unity” as well as the “deepening of faith through prayer and through formation,” constant digital exposure has a downside. “…There are also some threats. Being hooked constantly is the contemporary version of ‘noise.’ You don’t hear any noise, but you are constantly being bugged… It is the new form of noise, the lack of silence,” he explained partly in Filipino.
The prelate related how a priest revealed that whereas previously, the first thing he did in the morning was to pray, now it is to check his cellphone for messages.
Warnings from 1963
The Manila Cardinal pointed out how as early as 1963, the Second Vatican Council was already calling on the faithful, particularly parents, “to help the youth learn moderation and self-control in the use of the means of social communications.”
“Now they’re talking about addiction to the gadgets and it is a form of addiction…,” said Tagle.
But as algorithms that can’t tell fact from fake news took over the critical editorial role of deciding what people see in the new public conversation spaces, they fostered the rise of a disinformation ecosystem that distributed falsehood: from the simply misleading (due to the rush to print or post) to outright fabrication.
The forum laid bare the nature of disinformation and misinformation online. It also urged constant vigilance in an age of selfies, bots, fake accounts, and trolls. It sought to promote a better understanding of how social media and other digital platforms work – which even Filipino Bishops two generations older than millennials, had to learn from scratch, with the help of such mentors as the tech-savvy Pauline Sisters (Daughters of St. Paul).# — Based in part on CBCPNews