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November 13, 2017 (Luis García Orso, S.J. / SIGNIS Ecclesiastical Assistant). Everything has to facilitate meeting others, including our encounters in digital social networks, where we accept the challenge of living as Christian witnesses: “the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way” (Evangelii Gaudium, 91); “Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone” (ibid., 87).
“When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals. It follows that there exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others. To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it.” (Message of Pope Benedict XVI for World Communications Day 2011).
Communication is an encounter with another person, and our encounter - like that of Jesus - must be one of closeness, humility, patience, acceptance, understanding, dialogue, friendship, charity (see E.G. 165). Opening the heart, mind, spaces, time, relationships to let others in. We also look for a personal encounter in digital networks, an encounter that shares the most valuable thing that each one of us carries in the heart; a sharing in openness and freedom, that breaks individualism and opens another style of public communication that seeks communion and community. It is not just about being 'connected', but also about finding ourselves as people. It is not just a digital network, but a network of people. And it is not, therefore, exhibitionism, nor complacency, nor propaganda, nor imposition, nor an attack (as is sometimes the case in social networks). It is why Pope Francis tells us in his Message for the 2016 World Communications Day: “The digital world is a public square, a meeting-place where we can either encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful discussion or unfair attacks” and in the message for 2017 “I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.”
The members of SIGNIS are looking for a communication that is an encounter like the one of Jesus the Lord.