ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Social media and mission: "We need to face a culture of selfishness"

Saturday, 27 February 2021 pontifical mission societies   missionary animation   fraternity   social network  

Astana (Agenzia Fides) - "The digital revolution has led us to live in a new, distant world that we have not been able to make better: the problems of 'normal' everyday life have been transported into the digital world and perhaps amplified. For this reason, it is important to use social media with competence and awareness, to distinguish between what is useful and what is harmful and to promote a culture of friendship and fraternity", said the Austrian-born missionary and national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Kazakhstan, Father Leopold Kropfreiter from the Society of Jesus and Mary, to the conscious Use of digital communication media in the social and cultural environment of Central Asia. In a message sent to Agenzia Fides, the Austrian missionary, addressing young people in particular, he states: "We have to constantly ask ourselves whether we are behaving correctly online, and remind ourselves that our 'neighbor' on social media is not an anonymous number, but a person like us. St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in a time marked by great social, political and ecclesiastical crises, invites us with his example to live according to a new perspective, all ideological and transcends spatial boundaries: in his Admonitions, he defines as 'blessed' those who love and respect the other, regardless of whether they are far away from him or in his vicinity. These simple and memorable words can also be used in digital relationships, to love and respect the other person as if they were close to us".
According to Fr. Kropfreiter, the algorithms that regulate interactions on social media could also encourage self-centeredness and "digital narcissism". This has to be countered with a culture of openness: "In everyday life we constantly meet people who are different from us. Often things have to be discussed, and comparisons can be enriching. The situation is different in social networks: we know that the mathematical mechanisms that regulate them suggest friends, groups, organizations, advertisements that correspond to our preferences. We will never see profiles that do not suit us. The danger is that the word 'social' no longer applies and that our group is nothing more than our expanded selves, a mirror in which we only see what we like. However, real communication, dialogue, respect and friendship are only possible if we are able to step out of ourselves and to open ourselves to the world of others".
The topic of communication is very close to the heart of the Catholic Church in Kazakhstan and is a priority of the Bishops' Conference, which two years ago created a department that is supposed to tell about the life of the Church with innovative means. In this perspective, the Diocese of Almaty, with the support of the Pontifical Missionary Union, has organized a series of webinars on "Social media for evangelization in Central Asia" with the aim of creating competence and awareness for the use of these means of communication. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 27/2/2021)