Manila archbishop scores spelling in text messages
MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle poked fun Saturday at the shortened spelling of words many have adopted due to the influence of text messaging on their cellular phones.
Speaking at the country’s First Catholic Social Media Summit in Marikina City, Tagle said that even some of his doctoral theology students had gotten the bug, spelling Holy Trinity—a core Catholic belief of three persons in one God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit—simply as the “3nity.”
He added that the scramble to get as many friends as possible in social networking sites might actually be a sign that people were getting lonelier in an age when the world is supposed to be more interconnected through social media and the Internet.
“When you use the Internet, do you use it as a follower of Christ?” he said.
“E sa spelling na spelling pa lang hindi alam si Kristo e [In the spelling alone, you will know that they don’t know Christ]. Especially a graduate of Catholic school who does not know how to spell. I’m a teacher and I’m alarmed,” Tagle said.
“I teach masteral and doctoral level [students] and some students think that their paper in their exams are text [messages]. The Trinity becomes 3nity. Would you give [the student] an MA?” he added.
The archbishop also noted that the practice of personally writing down greetings and sending them through letters or greeting cards “is slowly disappearing.”
“I just had my birthday the other month… I received not more than 20 birthday cards and letters. The art of letter writing and card sending is slowly disappearing,” Tagle said.
“Twenty greeting cards and letters, but I received more than a thousand text messages and up to now I have not finished answering them back. It seems I’ll have to postpone it for Christmas [so I can say] ‘Merry Christmas. Thanks for your birthday greeting and Happy All Souls Day’ so that I can save,’” he said in jest.
Tagle added that he even got greetings on three “illegitimate” Facebook accounts that were put up by people that he did not know.
Nevertheless, the archbishop praised the potential of social networking and social media as “a great equalizer.”
“You can see even vendors in the markets selling fish while texting. The possession of knowledge and information is a sign of power. Now, let us rejoice to the fact that thanks to social media, information can be spread to a wider audience,” he said.
But on the other hand, Tagle said that the “rush” to get more and more friends in social networking sites might be a sign that the world is getting “lonelier.”
“Before, it could take years before you truly call someone a friend. I think it’s indicative of some longing of the human heart to be connected with others. This haste to have more friends is proof maybe that the world is sadder,” Tagle said.
“The rush with which we want to have more friends might be indicative of the depth of loneliness of being disconnected and it’s a prayer, a cry to God, a cry to neighbors and humanity [which says] ‘Do you see me? Do I exist for you?’ or ‘Will I be forever alone?’” he added.
Tagle urged those present to use the word “friend” seriously and not reduce it to a “mere label.”
“Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned and I want a longer process before you can call someone a friend [but] in the use of the social networking media, please take the word ‘friend seriously. Don’t reduce it to a mere label,’” Tagle said.
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