Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Is the Internet a bad thing?

I found this story on Catholic News Service today and posted it in part because of the issue it brings up regarding the Internet: Teachers, youth ministers sound warnings about popular Web site.

The issue it brings up is something that is occasionally discussed among some Catholics, Christians or any other group concerned about evil in the world; namely, is the Internet a bad thing? Does the fact that the Internet is a powerful tool in the spread of violence, pride and pornography make it evil?

The story touches on this while talking about a particular website ( that is geared toward giving individual users space to post information about themselves. Those who deal with youth are finding that all too many young people are posting material that is inappropriate, or are posting personal information that could put them in danger.

The conclusion of one of the interviewees is that the site isn't instrinsically evil, yet was concerned that people who use it need to exercise some good moral judgment.

The problem with MySpace is the problem of the Internet as a whole. Read these words of the Holy Father on World Communications Day earlier this year. He's speaking of communications in general, but they apply well to the Internet:

While the various instruments of social communication facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and mutual understanding among groups, they are also tainted by ambiguity. Alongside the provision of a "great round table" for dialogue, certain tendencies within the media engender a kind of monoculture that dims creative genius, deflates the subtlety of complex thought and undervalues the specificity of cultural practices and the particularity of religious belief.

The topic of good and evil on the Internet is vast, and for every argument against using the Web there are statements from figures like Pope John Paul II calling for us not to abandon the Internet, but to use it to spread the Gospel. It's what we try to do with The Criterion Online Edition and this blog.

Perhaps some readers would like to comment on how to deal with the problem of evil as it is manifest today on the Internet.


Don said...

The availability of pornography on the internet and it's being in everyone's home by the click of a mouse is devastating. Drugs, promoscuity, abortion, and on and on, require us to go out of our homes at least. I personally think the effects will be far more damaging to future generations than the benefits; and I do understand how much we are benefiting from this technology.

kieron said...

We have two girls, 7 and 10. They both like to play internet games, and the older one asked me recently if she could "chat" online with her friends from school.

I think the best defense against the "evil" of the internet is oversight: our computer is in the living room (not tucked away in the basement). Every time they get on the computer, I pop over to see what they are doing.

There are also a number of good technology oversight software that logs what you type...