From connection to communion
Rome (Italy). “We are members of each other (Ep 4:25). From communities to the community” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 53rd World Day of Social Communications that is celebrated on June 2, 2019.
From lies to the truth. The Pontiff gives us a clear reflection about our identity on the Net. An identity that is often dehumanized and that exposes us to deviations such as misinformation, the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which often translate into phenomena such as narcissism, cyber-bullying, and self-isolation leading to the phenomenon of ‘social hermits’.
However, the network is not only this. Pope Francis explains this by quoting Saint Paul and his metaphor of the body and members. Being members of one another means abandoning the temptation of lying but rather making truth prevail in all the spaces and times of our existence including online ones. For this reason, it is fundamental to reflect constantly on who we are on the net through the discovery of the other "in a new way, as an integral part and condition of relationship and proximity". Only in this way will the digital connection be translated into authentic communion to be projected also onto the Web which is "complementary to the encounter in flesh and bone", because "it lives through the body, the heart, the eyes, the gaze, the breath of the other". Communication, even digital, serves to create relationships.
When we post our contents on the Net, do we really feel the need to enter into a relationship with each other? Or do we always do everything just to show off?
From connection to communion. The metaphor of the network as a community in solidarity implies the construction of a ‘we’ based on listening to the other, on dialogue, and consequently on the responsible use of language.
How can a community be built on the Net? Only by learning to recount life, the meaning of life, family, love, work, goodness, beauty, gift, and offering hope to those who feel tired and exhausted, lost and without a guide. Only if we are able to find words, sounds, images, and create situations for a narration where the word 'love', linked to the reality of the community, of the family, is something that can make the heart burn, because it is in tune with the dimension of feeling and emotion and, at the same time, with fidelity and fruitfulness.
Making community is creating opportunities for sharing and encounter. It is about strengthening relationships, or generating new ones, of ‘networking’ whether it be digitally or in person. Pope Francis moved along this same line by launching the ‘Click To Pray’ application, the official platform of the Pope's World Prayer Network. With prayer, the Church has always been able to create invisible bridges capable of making all the faithful feel united in one people, to connect the hope and joy of the entire human family.
From ‘like’ to ‘amen’. Francis repeats that the net must be based on ‘truth’ and not on ‘likes’.
“If the Net is used as an extension or as waiting for such a meeting, then it does not betray itself and remains a resource for communion. If a family uses the Net to be more connected, to later meet at the table and look at each other, then it is a resource. Thus, the Internet can be a resource if it becomes a positive opportunity to get closer to stories, to experiences of beauty but also of suffering, physically distant, to seek together the good in the rediscovery of what unites us”. It is true that Facebook and Instagram function with Likes, but it is also true that everything we post, we post to receive Likes. However, we cannot continue to ‘use’ the Net only with this logic. We can begin to post contents and photos that tell the truth about ourselves, about others, and about the world. Contents and actions that create union, welcoming the other even if they think differently. The Social Networks were born to place us in relationship, let us not forget or modify their ‘why’.