By Pauline Leong
With over half the world’s population online and more transitioning to adopt a digital lifestyle, technology and digital media can be powerful tools to not just promote peace but to magnify and accelerate the efforts of peacebuilding.
Motivated by this, the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS) will gather some 550 Catholic communicators and media professionals worldwide to deliberate on diversifying the use of media in peacebuilding. The Themed ‘Peace in a Digital World’, the SIGNIS World Congress 2022 (SWC22) will be held in Seoul, South Korea, from 16 – 19 August.
Pope Francis, in his message to SWC22 participants, said that the theme is appropriate as the world is experiencing new outbreaks of violence and aggression. Although digital media has proven to be a “powerful means of fostering communication and dialogue”, there are also serious ethical issues that have emerged that “call for wise and discerning judgement on the part of communicators and all those concerned with the authenticity and quality of human relationships”. His Holiness notes that some social media sites have become “places of toxicity, hate speech and fake news”, and hopes that SIGNIS can play an important role in meeting these challenges through media education and networking Catholic media to counter lies and misinformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world the importance of digital connectivity and accessibility. Acknowledging that there are still many communities “remain excluded from the digital space”, Pope Francis encouraged SIGNIS members to make digital inclusion as a priority in its organisational planning. He reiterated his message for this year’s World Communications Day, asking journalists to “listen with the “ear of the heart”. The “apostolate of listening” belongs to Catholic communicators, for “communication is not just a profession, but a service to dialogue and understanding between individuals and larger communities in the pursuit of a serene and peaceful coexistence.”
SWC22 is a hybrid mixed-media conference consisting of face-to-face meetings and virtual conferences. It will also be transmitted via YouTube, Zoom, Metaverse and TV. Those who wish to attend or participate in SWC22 virtually can register through http://swc2022.net/
The SIGNIS World Congress 2022 Seoul is opening its doors on Aug. 16, 2022. You are welcome to register and experience the Metaverse online at www.swc2022.net