Communication is basic to animals and humans. The mode and quality of communication has evolved over centuries. While animals have largely followed same mode from time immemorial, humans have taken giant strides in this field. The term “Media of Communication” was first used for print media. Now it is used for audio visual and electronical means and so they are also called mass media of communication. It has made people to access to virtual world because of technological development. As human beings invent newer ways of communication, media is controlling the thought patterns of people and their attitudes and behaviors.
Values and Perils of Media
It is true that print media like “Young India” and other Newspapers in the vernacular have encouraged and energized people in the freedom struggle of India against British Raj. Then the Radio stations, film industries have disseminated informations about wars, events, national calamities and health and other useful informations besides music and entertainment.
Now mass media has helped to defend democratic values, expose corruptions of politicians and bureaucrats and put the culprits into bars. It has also helped to create public opinion in the context of crime and discrimination against the vulnerable. Besides the government makes use of the media to inform the people about various government schemes and achievements. The opposition political parties now have started their own electronic media and conscientize people the short comings of the functioning of the governments and also push their own agenda on the masses. News and information are manipulated for their own interest. The industrial giants own and control most of the media houses and influence the government. Hence the emergence of the social communication media helps both good and bad news.
Film World and Social Media
India produces more films than Hollywood in America. The films are produced by big companies. The constant depiction of the life style of the rich and famous personalities to the viewers that they equate a good life with riches and fame. The pursuit of money and fame often drives people to achieve with hook or crock without any qualm of conscience. The young are drown easily today such a culture of aggressiveness and violence.
Social media and its technological advances have certainly helped people to interact frequently and immediately among themselves through face book, WhatsApp, and instagram etc. Now it is possible that we get some official documents in the online, we can make on line money transactions. In times of trouble and violence, the government quickly bans the use of internet services to control rumor mongering that may otherwise cause serious harm to people and property. Now the world suddenly woke up to the fact that the data of millions of people had been hacked. Some of the official secrets were leaked and the election results are manipulated. People came to the realization that in the virtual world nothing is secret and secure. Besides, people get addicted to various sites forgetting the world around them. The family life is destroyed and personal relationships are ruined. Finally it has also caused inferiority complex, anxiety, loneliness, mental trauma and suicide.
Theme for 2019
In this context, Holy Father Pope Francis has announced the theme for 2019 “World Communication Day” “From network Communities to Human Communities”. The Pope explained the difference between fake news and journalism for peace. One can recognize the truth of the statements from their fruits. Where they provoke anger and quarrels, ferment division and hatred they can be considered as fake news but on the contrary if they promote informed and mature reflection on the facts to constructive dialogue for community building then it is journalism, worthy of its name.
The social media has to be used not so much emphasizing on breaking news than on explaining under laying causes of conflicts in order to promote a deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution through a virtuous process, giving alternatives rather than escalation of shouting and verbal violence. Using such a powerful media, the Pope adds, we should respect others and their perspectives and build up human communities rather than high light differences and increase divisions.
The risk in our time is that of forming tribes in exclusion of others instead of communities in inclusion of others. It is greatly desirable that the social media is used to build up a community of solidarity which is based on listening to others on dialogue and consequently on the responsible use of language.
The Pope finally warned that in today’s world of new media technologies, the speed of information surpasses our capacity of reflection. We are exposed to the impact and influence of a culture of haste and superficiality and run the risk of missing the purpose of our lives in the world.
As we are at the threshold of the New Year 2019 let us be harbingers of the good news of hope and peace, by building up fraternity and thereby community of love and reconciliation. Let us make use of the network of community for the growth of human communities.
I wish you all a very “Happy New year” – 2019.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur