07/05/2013 09:07

The Revolution of Social Media

Sunday, 5 May 2013 - 47th World Communications Day

By Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME - CBC Communications

05 MAY 2013 - While everybody is familiar with traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV, etc.), the theme of Social Networks may look premature and distant for Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The Social Networks are not autonomous objects such as a newspaper or radio station; rather they reside on the World Wide Web also known as the Internet. This is a digital connection which extends all around the world with a number of computers and mobile devices as connecting tools. Social Networks, therefore, appear mostly on the screen of a computer or mobile phone. They connect people with the unique possibility of simultaneous and widespread interaction. On the Social Networks you don’t only “say” something as you would do on radio or TV, but you converse, chat, discuss, gather people, friends and groups…

The most popular Social Network is Facebook. It was brought about less than ten years ago by an American university student. Now about one billion people around the world are on Facebook sharing life experiences with their friends, selling products, advocating freedom and political change, promoting and spreading religious values and messages… Countless dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, youth Christian groups… have a space on Facebook. The Vatican and the recent Popes have pages on Facebook. Pope Francis got five million ‘followers’ on Twitter, another very popular network, in the first four weeks after his election.

While most of PNG remains rural and poorly connected to the Internet, in the cities and among professionals and students the presence on Social Networks, especially Facebook, is widespread and growing. For them being online is just one of the daily activities, such as going to school, applying for a job, shopping, or going to the parish for prayer or gatherings…

That’s why Emeritus Pope Benedict said in the message he released on 24 January 2013 that the Social Networks are good (Portals of Truth and Faith) unless ‘we’ corrupt them with damaging contents; not only, but they are also places where we are called to witness the Good News (New Spaces for Evangelization).

Those who care for people need to be on the Social Networks; because people are there as they are in the schools, hospitals, churches, offices, street and slums…. Words of inspiration and encouragement can be extended through the Social Networks; catechetical pages can be developed; Bible sharing groups are already mushrooming around the Sunday readings or other contents of the Scripture… Sharp Talk, The PNG News Page and other similar groups constantly debate social, political and religious issue regarding Papua New Guinea on Facebook. What a chance to convey ideas and information otherwise precluded to many, and reach out to people otherwise impossible to meet! (cbcpngsi.org – giorgiolicni@yahoo.com)