A medical staff member wearing protective gear amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus takes the temperature of a resident while conducting health checks in Yangon. (Photo: AFP)
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has warned of the danger social media poses to the younger generation as it is fed by a toxic cocktail of “hatred, abusive behavior and negativity.”
On the occasion of World Communications Day on May 24, he raised concerns over the use of social media amid rampant hatred in Myanmar.
“A section of the younger generation is fed with a toxic cocktail of narratives of hatred, compulsive abusive behavior, addictive pornography and other cluster bombs of negativity,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily on May 24, which was also Ascension Sunday.
He said a culture nurtured through centuries of graceful cultural streams is drinking from polluted wells of depravity of carnal bits and bytes.
“What is the contribution of social media to the next generation? Social media Covid will inflict moral mortality on our younger generation,” he said.
Cardinal Bo, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, stressed the effects of fake news and false narratives that have loosened human relationships and social harmony.
“The stories these evil persons spread on the net has viscerally wounded the next generation,” he said, adding that “even the children are not spared. Evil men teach hatred and evil to children.”
The 72-year-old cardinal said the real coronavirus may go away with the development of a vaccine but the social media virus will inflict moral mortality on our young generation.
“Social harmony was already mutilated by the narratives of hatred spread by fringe groups. Social media has fragmented our unity into scraps of religions, ethnic and linguistic fragments,” he warned.
He added that even Facebook has taken note of “the lava of hatred” spewing through social media in Myanmar.
Cardinal Bo quoted Pope Francis’ message on the 54th World Communications Day. “The pope urges us not to Facebook but to do face-to-face stories with human beings. We recognize we are all interconnected, not through our phones but through our common humanity.”
He urged the faithful to continue their faith through these dark days.
“Let Covid-19 become history and disappear since a living God is in charge. The darkness will go away. Every long night ends with a dawn. It is near,” he said.
He acknowledged the mission of being a Christian is a grace and a challenge. “The long lockdown and closure of our dear churches continue to challenge our faith. Be the Good News to one another. Every family is a mini church,” he said.
Churches remain closed and public Masses have been suspended since mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Myanmar has reported 201 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 122 recoveries, according to the latest data.