by Russell Pollitt SJ
“The internet is “something truly good, a gift from God” – Pope Francis
Recently Pope Francis met with Marc Zuckerberg, and his wife Priscilla Chan. Zuckerberg is the co-founder and CEO of Facebook. They met to discuss how communications technologies can be used to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of dialogue and bring a message of hope to the most disadvantaged people of our world.
Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook, after the encounter, that it was a “meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his [Pope Francis’] warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.”
Technology offers us many opportunities to be a force of good in the world, to help people. Our generation can reach much further than those who have gone before us. We need to think of creative and strategic ways that we can use the World Wide Web constructively for the integral development of people. Crowd source funding, connecting people for educational opportunities, tapping into expertise and advocating greater awareness for those who live on the margins, have all become much easier in our online world. We can truly become, as Pope Francis says, a “field hospital” for humanity if we use the internet responsibly.
Sometimes online interaction, sadly, degenerates into vitriol and venom. People do not dialogue but slam each other. To do this, it seems to me, is to abuse “something good, a gift from God.” How can we really use the networks that enfold our planet for the benefit of all humanity? A question worth pondering next time you are online…
Lord our God
Thank you for the gifts you give us that enable us to create tools like the internet.
Help us to use this gift well, to minister to all our brothers and sisters.
Keep us ever mindful that our access to these networks is a privilege that many others do not enjoy.
Bless us and all our efforts to be a force of good in your world.