The means of social communication, which are developing very fast, are becoming the space for human life, human being’s (man’s) specific world. The new media, which, however still remain only the means in the process of interpersonal communication, also create a new quality of information society; they are the creators of life quality, a new vision of the world and a new concept of the human being. Thus, they create a sphere where the questions arise about the human being, and the moral evaluation of the human being’s activity in this sphere[1]. The axiological dimension, connected with the human being’s presence and activity in this sphere, the human being taking part in the media communication processes, is an inseparable part of this media sphere[2].

The new quality of life, presented by the present media sphere, or in other words mass media, has its impact on the family, a basic community where the process of interpersonal communication takes place. The family functions in many spheres which need the axiological evaluation of the processes taking place within them connected with man’s presence in them. These spheres are first comprised of the functioning media structures and the institutions connected with them, then the creators of communication technologies and the media (the sphere of so called media channels), journalists and publicists (the sphere media content creation), and also the media products such as the picture, the text, the sound, and also the products connected with media transition channel: press, radio, television, internet and multimedia (media product sphere).

The family is present and acts in the so-constructed media sphere, retaining its subjective individuality, and the family remains a perfect example of interpersonal communication as communio personarum. This family communication is, regarding for example, the process of family raising, the way to retain a balance between the media and the family values the family lives by. The family constitutes its own culture and creates the system of values and attitudes. All this makes man work and form cognitive processes, introduces to him the world of meanings. This also is the environment of shaping creative personalities[3]. Man should discover his internal abilities to communicate himself and his capability of personal transcendence. Man is always a subject: both in intra-personal and inter-personal communication[4]. This man’s specific position in the process of communication stems from the onto-existential fact that he is a person, and the process of communication, as suggested in The Pastoral Instruction Communio et progressio, on the means of Social Communications(no. 11), is a person’s message, which leads to the community of people. In the last Message for the World Communications Day, “The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Among Peoples”, the Pope says that the basic ethics rule is “a person and the community of people are the aim and the measurement of mass media implementation: the communication must function between two persons and serve the integral purpose of the person’s development” (no. 4). The media must not be addressed to the anonymous public, that is, the public perceived as fiction or clients[5].

Man, thus, is Somebody Special in this media sphere and man “must not lose his specific place in this world he himself has created[6]. Through the analogy to John Paul II’s statement in Redemptor hominis, “man is the way of the Church”. It can be also be said that man is the way of the contemporary mass media. It is especially important if the fact that the media sphere brings about both dangers and possibilities for man and the family is taken into consideration. The Pope’s Message for the 38thWorld Communications Day, “The Media and the Family–A Risk and a Richness”, is devoted to this issue. “Thanks to the unprecedented expansion of the communications market in recent decades, many families throughout the world, even those of quite modest means, now have access in their own homes to immense and varied media resources. As a result, they enjoy virtually unlimited opportunities for information, education, cultural expansion, and even spiritual growth,--opportunities that far exceed those available to most families in earlier times. Yet these same media also have the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality” (no. 2).

It is worth mentioning here that this is not only the media sphere that brings dangers and possibilities for man, but also man himself, being present and active in the mass media sphere who can be a chance and danger for himself. It is widely known that in the mass media (for instance the Internet) we can find a multifarious range of information, ranging from the news in a strict sense to entertainment, from prayer to pornography, from contemplation to violence[7]. However the way people use the Internet and what approach they have towards the media, influences what kind attitude they will form, whether it is the approach of solidarity and sympathy or a sealed narcissism, “deprived of [the] outer reference world, influenced by almost narcotic stimuli”[8]. John Paul II in his Message for the World Communications Day in 1980, “Social Communication and Family”, concludes that “parents’ task is raising themselves and their children to understand the value of communication and be able to choose the message the news contains without being influenced by them, in an independent and responsible way”.

The question about man is the most crucial issue: whether man in the media sphere “becomes better, spiritually more mature, more human dignity consciousness, more responsible, more open for others--especially those in need, and those weaker, becomes ready to offer help”[9]. In other words, whether man, through concrete deeds towards the media sphere realizes himself as a person. Whether the process of self-realization of a person through morally right acts towards what the media offer, is present. Whether, following the suggestion of “Redemptor hominis”, man is able to realize himself through being a non-profit gift in communio personarum, which builds the media sphere in its subjective dimension.

Retaining their subjectivity and identity, man and the family are present in the media sphere. The two realities, family and mass media, permeate and influence each other. What decides their co-existence and what decides their detachment?



[1] See R. A. Dyson, Mind abuse. Media violence in an information age, Montreal 2000; T. Zasępa, Media, człowiek, społeczeństwo, pp. 16-27.

[2] See M. Drożdż, Osoba i media. Personalistyczny paradygmat etyki mediów [Person and Media. Personal Paradigm of Media Ethics], Tarnów 2005, p. 17.

[3] See L. Dyczewski L, Rodzina, społeczeństwo, państwo [Family, Society, Country], Lublin 1994 pp. 112-125.

[4] See G. Savagnone, Comunicazione oltre il mito e l’utopia. Per una cultura conviviale, Milano 1997, p. 125.

[5] See P. Sorlin, Mass media, Wrocław 2001, pp. 38-47; D. Chaney, Fiction and ceremonies, London 1979.

[6] K. Wojtyła, Osoba i czyn oraz inne studia antropologiczne [Person and Act. And other Anthropological Studies], Lublin 1994, p. 70.

[7] J. Wojtkun, Internet – szanse i zagrożenia [The Internet- Chances and Dangers] in: Zeszyty formacji katechetów [Bulletins for Religion Teachers Formation], 4 (2004), no. 3 (15), pp. 29-34.

[8] The Papal Council for the Means of Mass Communication, Ethics in Media (4 June 2000) no. 2; see A. Lepa, Media a postawy [Media and Attitudes], Łódź 2002.

[9] John Paul II, Encyclical “Redemptor hominis” on the Redeemer of Man, March 4, 1979, no. 15.

Autor: Jarosław Jęczeń
Ostatnia aktualizacja: 05.05.2014, godz. 14:10 - Jarosław Jęczeń