Earlier this week I had the opportunity to discuss new media with a group of people, some for new media some against. Now I love a good debate, and in the early days of my reversion, I would often find myself “picking a fight” with anyone who wasn’t Catholic or “not Catholic enough” in my opinion. I quickly learned that this was not the way Christ wanted me to use my new found zeal for the faith. So on this particular evening I was more than happy to let the conversations happen and simply listen.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing.” This can also be said for new media. One of the arguments I heard was that the internet, new media, phone apps and the like draw people away from human interaction and in doing so can draw them away from the Church. While the possibility for this happening is true, I found the use in this case to be incorrect. The app in question was the new Confession app for the iPhone. The argument was that because the app offered “feedback” to the person it was possible for the user to mistake the feedback for actual absolution. This actually sounded a lot like what the main stream media was presenting the app to be, and not what it truly is.
So with this in mind, we have to remember that one of the first jobs we have as digital missionaries is to educate. Education, just like catechesis, is essential to our mission. If we do not present new media for what it is and the good it can do, we will be lost. We must also take heed of the concerns of others to not get sucked into our devices. It is true that technology puts the world at our fingertips, but we must remember to unplug and reach out to those around us and make those personal connections. It is those personal connections that will make our use of new media so much more powerful. The meet-ups that we attend, the new media celebrations that we flock to are all opportunities to make those personal connections, not only with our peers, but with those we hope to be reaching.
Like the apologists who challenge us to continually learn about our faith so that we can defend it, I challenge you to continually educate yourself about the world of new media so that when the questions come you’ll be ready with the answers.