MAKATI City, January 19, 2018–Just as he praised social media and its great potential for evangelization, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said modern man’s immersion in the digital world could be leading him back to silence and reflection.
“Some people are proposing a digital detox… I don’t know how to do it. But they say, through silence, return to reflection and prayer life,” said the prelate, giving the keynote talk of a panel discussion on “Catholic media in challenging times” at the Layforce Auditorium, San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe in this city.
Tagle, who hosts the syndicated TV show The Word Exposed, said that at a time when many enjoy multiple means of social communication, “people are looking for silence.”
Need for silence
“When people are talking about communication, they also rediscover the need for silence,” he said.
While Tagle said social media opens up opportunities for “solidarity, growing in unity” as well as the “deepening of faith through prayer and through formation,” constant digital exposure has a downside.
“…(T)here are also some threats. Being hooked constantly is the contemporary version of noise. You don’t hear any noise, but you are constantly being bugged… It is the new form of noise, the lack of silence,” he explained partly in Filipino.
The prelate related how a priest revealed that before, the first thing he did in the morning was to pray, now, it is to check his phone for messages.
“For me, [one of the threats is] the lack of time to reflect. There is no more time to think. It’s like everything should be fast, [but] there are things that need to be studied, [and] thought about,” said Tagle.
Warnings from 1963
According to him, the digital culture seems to reinforce the “quest for external stimulation.”
“It’s like we need to be stimulated all the time by an external [stimulant]… and speed. Everyone is in a hurry: instant coffee, even responses should be instant,” he said.
The need for constant stimulation, explained Tagle, is tied to narcissism, isolation, emptiness, and unhappiness.
The prelate pointed out how as early as 1963, the Second Vatican Council was already calling on the faithful, particularly parents, to “to help the youth learn moderation and self-control in the use of the means of social communication.”
“Now they’re talking about addiction to the gadgets and it is a form of addiction…,” said Tagle.
Organized by Signis Philippines, Jesuit Communications Foundation, TV Maria, Catholic Media Network, Paulines, and Radio Veritas, the panel discussion also featured Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the CBCP Commission on Social Communications, John Nery of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Howie Severino of GMA Network 7 as reactors. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)