The PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS’ document “THE CHURCH AND INTERNET” has very important message to communicate to us all Christians. That message is already communicated to me. And here how it unfolds:
The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world with a powerful formative influence; but not everything on the other side of the door is safe and wholesome and true. “Children and young people like you should be open to formation regarding media, resisting the easy path of uncritical passivity, peer pressure, and commercial exploitation”. You owe it to yourself—and to your parents and families and friends, pastors and teachers, and ultimately to God—to use the Internet well. The Internet places in your grasp at an unusually early age an immense capacity for doing good and doing harm, to yourself and others. It can enrich your lives beyond the dreams of earlier generations and empower you them to enrich others’ lives in turn. It also can plunge you into consumerism, pornographic and violent fantasy, and pathological isolation. Young people, as has often been said, are the future of society and the Church. Good use of the Internet can help you prepare for your responsibilities in both. But this will not happen automatically. The Internet is not merely a medium of entertainment and consumer gratification. It is a tool for accomplishing useful work, and the young must learn to see it and use it as such. In cyberspace, at least as much as anywhere else, you may be called on to go against the tide, practice counter-culturalism, and even suffer persecution for the sake of what is true and good.
The message you want to tell me is very clear and substantial. I am very grateful to it because seldom do I receive advice with regards my relationship to the internet. Growing up in an environment where most of my time was unguarded and left alone in front of television, I became liberated. Out of curiosity I cannot resist to experiment things for discovery. Primarily it is because no one was there to ask for about the things that triggered me. Before attending formal schooling I already mastered our VHS and TV, because my grandmother doesn’t know to used them; neither did she resolve to practice using them. In effect, I explored other technological gadgets. I carried this attitude until my seminary days. Additionally, I carried that attitude of imprudence towards internet. I visited different websites unnecessarily, especially during unguarded moments. I admit, a pornographic and violent fantasy was once my goal in using the internet. I was compulsively motivated to do so. Internet has done a crime to me. Is it so? Or the other way round? Weather the latter or the former I don’t care. One thing is certain, I suffered. Even now the memories of my past experiences keep on haunting especially when I resolve to be holy. Nonetheless, internet is not harmful all the time. In fact it is very important as I am doing my thesis. It saves me time and effort in searching for books related to my thesis. It also facilitated me on my research in different libraries (Ateneo and UST). Bit more than that is the information it offers me. The news around the world, issues in the country, new discoveries and facts that nurtures my knowledge are easily accessible in the internet. It connects me from my friends and relatives which I considered very advantageous since we are not allowed to have our cell phones in the seminary. Lastly, internet satisfies my craving for good entertainment and for wisdom.
However I still have to work on the vice that I nurture as I grew up unguardedly namely, imprudence, I could hardly open my awareness to the real goodness of things that I am easily betrayed by the apparent good of things. Hence, I resolve to be guided by your Post Scriptum.
Finally, then, we would suggest some virtues that need to be cultivated by everyone who wants to make good use of the Internet; their exercise should be based upon and guided by a realistic appraisal of its contents.
Prudence is necessary in order clearly to see the implications—the potential for good and evil—in this new medium and to respond creatively to its challenges and opportunities.
Justice is needed, especially justice in working to close the digital divide—the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor in today’s world.52 This requires a commitment to the international common good, no less than the “globalization of solidarity”.53
Fortitude, courage, is necessary. This means standing up for truth in the face of religious and moral relativism, for altruism and generosity in the face of individualistic consumerism, for decency in the face of sensuality and sin.
And temperance is needed—a self-disciplined approach to this remarkable technological instrument, the Internet, so as to use it wisely and only for good.
(I edited the italized pronouns above from the original document to make it look more personal)