Cruising the digital
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 20, 2014
have to learn how to cruise the digital world. It’s practically part
of everyone’s life now, offering a lot of good but also a lot of
dangers. We should know how to make use of it without compromising our
dignity as persons and children of God.
This highly technological world introduces us to a virtual environment
that is like a super-superhighway with much heavier and more
complicated traffic than what we experience in our busiest
thoroughfares. Its range and scope is not local but global, and it
touches on practically all aspects of our life.
If in our transport systems, we need regulations like registration of
vehicles, licensing of drivers with their respective periodic
renewals, and other things like traffic road signs and traffic aides,
etc., we have to realize that we need more or less the same set of
regulations in our digital world.
Obviously, the regulations here would be more extensive and
comprehensive than what we have in our transport systems. They should
cover not only considerations of practicality and convenience in our
needs of knowledge and communication, but also and more importantly,
considerations of appropriateness, morality and spirituality.
Everyone knows that the digital world can have two effects. It is good
to those who are good, and in fact, it will improve them. But it is
bad also to those who are bad or weak, and it tends to worsen them.
Digital citizens and users should therefore be clear about their
identity and dignity as persons and children of God who are supposed
to be ruled by truth and love, and all their consequences of justice,
mercy, compassion, and of concern for one another and for
strengthening our relation with God, etc.
The ideal would be that every time they are in the digital
environment, they should learn to see God there and to be motivated
only by love for God and for others. They should ask themselves after
using the Internet, “Am I now a better person and child of God with
what I have seen and done in the Internet?”
Unless this basic requirement is met, one would enter into a highway
that is a slippery slope toward all forms of self-seeking with their
usual company of greed, envy, vanity, lust, gluttony, sloth, etc.
Conflict and contention would not be remote in this arena.
Unrestrained competition and rivalry would surge.
That is why, this identity of the digital citizens as persons and
children of God who are necessarily connected with everybody else and
governed by truth and love should always be protected, maintained and
Toward this end, it stands to reason that digital citizens and users
should be men and women of prayer, of virtues, of clear criteria based
on sound human and Christian moral principles. They should know the
true nature and meaning of freedom, avoiding using freedom as “a cloak
for malice,” as St. Peter said in his first letter. (2,16)
Otherwise, they would be confused and lost, and an easy prey to the
many subtle conditionings all of us are exposed to – physical,
emotional, psychological, social, cultural, historical, economic,
And since many young people are very much involved in the digital
world, the elders and others of authority and influence should do
everything to inculcate in them very deeply this proper identity and
dignity of being persons and children of God, brothers and sisters
with one another, ruled by truth and love.
These youngsters are typically highly driven by their curiosities, but
with curiosities that spring and are maintained usually by unpurified
impulses and peer pressure. They really need to be taken care of, but
in an appropriate way, since they also do not like to be treated like
If before a youngster is allowed to drive a car in our public road
system, he has to have the proper age requirement, the appropriate
physical and health condition, and has to be trained and tested, then
it stands to reason that this youngster all the more would need a
similar kind of requirements before he is allowed to cruise in the
more dangerous digital thoroughfares.
This attitude toward the digital world should be developed first of
all in the family, then in churches and schools, and then in other
public places like offices, hospitals, etc.
We should understand that the digital world is not a free-for-all
world. It would be a deadly understanding of freedom if that is how we
understand the freedom we enjoy in our digital world.
It has to be properly regulated so we can cruise it safely and