I’ve been thinking a lot about social networks this week and the role they played in this week’s terrible event at the Capitol. We’ve heard about the impacts of social networks and how they can serve as echo chambers, spread misinformation and increase divisiveness. There were a lot of factors that led up to Wednesday’s mob at the Capitol building, but it certainly the event was one of the clearest and most unfortunate manifestations of the negative influences of social networks.
These reflections reminded me of a piece I read in an America magazine online publication (https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/10/18/screen-time-officially-catholic-social-teaching-pope-francis-fratelli-tutti) which explores how we should approach digital tools and devices through the lens of Catholic social teaching. I encourage you to read the entire article, but the author ends his commentary offering an alternative view on the potential of digital tools:
“But we do need to rethink our approach to these digital devices and networks so they can be more than tools for information or entertainment. We need to embrace them as portals to more diverse views and voices to deepen our grasp of our complex and interdependent reality. We need to ensure they serve as instruments of greater transparency and accountability, especially in resisting abuses of power that silence, stigmatize or shame individuals or groups. We should use them to raise consciousness, activate agency, organize collaboratively and creatively stretch our imagination.
By doing so, we can work toward our shared flourishing and the global common good. A vision for the universal love of solidarity requires nothing less in a digital age.”
What role can and should digital tools help us to promote the common good in regards to our environment? How can we design these networks to encourage others to grow their understanding, connection and care for the environment and others?