Media Must Develop True Wisdom

Manila Bulletin, June 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

Media Must Develop True Wisdom


Laudato Si - the much awaited encyclical of Pope Francis, was more than about the environment. But he made it clear that climate change and other aspects of development are inter-related. Thus, the encyclical, a comprehensive document that examines the various social, cultural, economic, and technological developments in our present society, considers problems that affect the welfare of all sectors of society, particularly the most marginalized - poverty, social exclusion, social aggression, drug abuse and trafficking, as well as the impact of technology and innovations on our values, lifestyles, and institutions, the solutions proffered, and the varied responses to change.

The media and digital technology, he notes, are examples of technological innovations that are so powerful and have both positive and negative impact on our values and lifestyles. But, "when they become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply, and to love generously." The danger from this pervasive nature of the media, especially the predominance of entertainment over educational content, is that they prevent us from benefitting from new knowledge and wisdom. "The great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload," he says. Other critics have noted that we have become captive to the media which is dominated by entertainment content. Their sheer force and volume prevents us from seeking exposure to educational and cultural activities like reading a good book or watching a play or concert.

"True wisdom," he continues, "as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue, and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data, which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution." Again, here, the encyclical cautions us about the pitfalls of mere accumulation of facts which is now happening with the overload of information coming from Internet and other media. The knowledge we acquire is important. As Pope Francis says, "today's media do enable us to communicate and share our knowledge and affections. Yet they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears, and the joys of others and the complexity of their experiences." Thus, we need to examine the information with a critical mind, and engage in dialogue and exchange with others because it is through the sharing of happiness and grief that we become truly human.

The encyclical also notes the dangers we face through our "blind confidence in technical solutions. …

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