Fratelli Tutti 43: Campaigns Of Hatred

We place too many expectations on social media if we think that it, as a single tool, offers us a complete toolbox. Try using a hammer to tighten a screw. 

43. Digital campaigns of hatred and destruction, for their part, are not – as some would have us believe – a positive form of mutual support, but simply an association of individuals united against a perceived common enemy. “Digital media can also expose people to the risk of addiction, isolation and a gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships”.[Christus Vivit 88]

The danger is that human beings are flawed and can be dysfunctional. Social media can exacerbate certain problems, and prevent authentic relationships. 

They lack the physical gestures, facial expressions, moments of silence, body language and even the smells, the trembling of hands, the blushes and perspiration that speak to us and are a part of human communication.

The one word that describes this is incarnation. When the human senses are engaged, there is the possibility of putting “body” on the words one uses. Transmitted through computers, we get little or nothing of that. Pope Francis points out other challenges:

Digital relationships, which do not demand the slow and gradual cultivation of friendships, stable interaction or the building of a consensus that matures over time, have the appearance of sociability. Yet they do not really build community; instead, they tend to disguise and expand the very individualism that finds expression in xenophobia and in contempt for the vulnerable. Digital connectivity is not enough to build bridges. It is not capable of uniting humanity.

I find this a bit harsh. One could say the same thing about other long-distance communication: letters, signal flags, morse code. Digital communication can transmit information. Sometimes quite well. When it relays lies and fakery, it can be harder to discern the untruth. 

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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