The rapid and dizzying change that is constantly taking place in the digital age has hindered us from reflecting on just how we, as Capuchins, should enter this world of constant connection and diversity. This situation of change raises many questions in terms of our charism and about how we should relate to each other, how we communicate and how we should handle our personal information and our intimate communications. It is possible for us to enter this world as mere spectators, while critically and consciously not losing sight of our identity. The Ratio Formationis tells us the following:
“Today, more than ever, culture is characterized by anthropological pluralism and by the challenges of the digital world (cyber-anthropology). Being permanently connected to the internet influences our way of thinking, remembering, and communicating with one another, our way of understanding freedom, our capacity to reflect, our management of time, and the ways we express our intimacy” (RF129)
Thus, we cannot classify new technologies merely as useful tools since they have become an essential part of our daily lives, even to the point of transforming our perception of freedom and how we relate to it. Pope Francis in his Encyclical Cristus vivit says the following:
“It is no longer merely a question of ‘using’ instruments of communication, but of living in a highly digitalized culture that has had a profound impact on ideas of time and space, on our self-understanding, our understanding of others and the world, and our ability to communicate, learn, be informed and enter into relationship with others. The web and social networks have created a new way to communicate and bond. They are “a public square where the young spend much of their time and meet one another easily” (CV 86-87).
When we access new technologies (Internet-Social Network), we must understand that we are not entering a closed room with stationary objects, but a window that opens us into a world beyond our own understanding, where space-time is transformed, characterizing our very relationships, our intimacies and our freedom (distances are shortened and information travels fast). We must understand that we are not dealing with some “space” set apart from the world, but rather, a new continent within the world. And being so, we should not enter it without first setting for ourselves specific parameters. The following video is a reflection on our charism and digital communication: