The past June 2, on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, World Communications Day 2019 will was held with the theme “We are members of one another” (Eph 4:25). In the message for this Day, Pope Francis expresses that “the Internet represents an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge; but it is also true that it has manifested itself as one of the places most exposed to disinformation and to the conscious and planned distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which often assume the form of discredit. It is necessary to recognize that, on the one hand, social networks serve to make us more in touch, meet and help each other; but on the other hand, they also lend themselves to a manipulative use of personal data in order to obtain political and economic advantages, without due respect for the person and his rights. Among the youngest, statistics reveal that one in four boys has been involved in episodes of cyberbullying.
It is evident that, in the current scenario, the social network community is not automatically synonymous with community. At best, social network communities manage to show cohesion and solidarity, but they often remain only aggregations of individuals who group around interests or issues characterized by weak ties. Moreover, identity in social networks is too often based on opposition to the other, to the one that does not belong to the group: this is defined by what divides rather than what unites, leaving room for suspicion and the explosion of all kinds of prejudices (ethnic, sexual, religious and others). This tendency feeds groups that exclude heterogeneity, that favour, also in the digital environment, an unbridled individualism, sometimes ending up fostering spirals of hatred. What should be an open window to the world thus becomes a showcase in which to exhibit one’s narcissism,” says the Pontiff.