COMMENTARY By: Fr Roy Cimagala

WE cannot doubt the many benefits we can derive from the use of the social media. It facilitates communication which is a necessity for all of us. We just have to know how to use it properly, for definitely the possibility also is high to use it improperly.
I am always of the belief that the new technologies we are having now are actually posing new challenges to us, not only in the area of knowing their technical mechanisms and how to take advantage of them, but also and more importantly in the area of how to use it properly.
The finer points of the spiritual and moral requirements of their use have to be considered most especially. This is the greater and more important challenge actually. And I am afraid that this aspect of the challenge is largely ignored. We cannot deny that the new technologies have great potential to make us a better person. But they can also cause serious, undescribable harm. Let’s not be naïve.
At the moment, a cursory look at the postings on Fb, for example, simply shows all forms of self-indulgence and blatant flauntings of vanity, flatteries, self-glorification, gossiping, etc. If not these, then a lot of bashing, fault-finding and the like also abound. To a certain extent, the social media can be used for commercial purposes, but this too needs to be regulated. Coercive chain-letters should be stopped.
Even the expression of opinions is done almost without charity. Very often, unnecessary feuds and disputes erupt over unimportant matters. It would seem that these things are becoming the new normal in our culture. We have to be very careful about this trend. This can only lead us to greater trouble.
We need to remind everyone to practice restraint and moderation in the use of the social media. Everyone should have a clear idea of the priorities of his duties and responsibilities and give the appropriate time and effort there. Definitely, for most of us the social media should not get much of our time and attention. For sure, there are many other more important things to do.
Besides, everyone should have a clear vision of what to do there. We just cannot go to the social media to have a fill of our curiosities. That would be tantamount to idleness and wasting time. Of course, it would be good if we can have a clear idea of how much time to allot on the social media. We should not be there all the time.
In this regard, it would be advisable that our interventions there are always positive and constructive. We should proclaim the “Good News” more than merely opinable matters. Inspiring and edifying stories and testimonies should dominate rather than stories that sow intrigues and invite disputes.
In other words, everyone should have purity of intentions and should practice extreme delicacy in expressing views and opinions. Given the often hasty treatment we give to the social media, we should be more mindful of our tendency to be reckless in our interventions, leading to a lot of misunderstandings.
We should be quick to ask for forgiveness if for one reason or another we may have offended someone there, as well as to forgive everyone who may also have offended us in some way. We have to learn to respect each other’s opinions, even if we do not agree with them.
We should see to it that the social media would truly contribute to the common good. In this regard, we have to have some clear criteria and standards to guide us in assessing the true value of this powerful means of communication.
Let’s hope that those in the communication business can come up with some pertinent code of ethics and spread it around as widely as possible. There definitely is a need for continuing education and formation in this area.