July 25, 2019 (Fr Joseph Anucha, President of SIGNIS Asia, Chairman of Digital Desk of SIGNIS World, Secretary of Catholic Social Communication of Thailand)
“The digital environment is characteristic of the contemporary world. Broad swathes of humanity are immersed in it in an ordinary and continuous manner,” is not a phrase from any researchers or books about the Digital World, but drawn from paragraph 86 of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christus Vivit” by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The unavoidable reality we must accept is that we are now part of a “Highly Digital Culture” driven by the web and social networks. While there are many benefits if used in positive ways, their misuse either intentionally or unintentionally, in particular by youth, poses serious threats on their faith, virtues, conscience, and loss of reality and self-worth. These threats result in diminished religious values, which are the foundation of virtues, by cyber bullying, fake news, exploitation, cybercrimes, and infringements on privacy.
Many of our youth are aware of their situation in the digital environment. Comments from Thai youth while preparing for the Pre-Synodal document voiced their opinion on the challenge of the temptations from environments that lead them to bad behaviors, especially through on-line communications. Communications with negative messages adversely affect their lives in this rapidly changing world. A world that threatens their privacy and security exposing them to wrong ideas about sex, living out of wedlock, family violence, materialism, and mimicking celebrities and the rich. As a consequence, young people would place more importance on self-interests drawing themselves away from parish activities. However, they wish for more encouragement from priests and pastoral directors. They expressed that their deficit in faith, piety, and formation is due to the generational gaps between themselves, the elders and the Church.