Subjectivity, networks and forms of connection

11 September 2018

Young people today live in a globalized world, a network of interconnections and relationships. Goods, information, electronic images, songs, entertainment and fads spread almost instantly throughout the planet. Social networks have become their natural habitat and it is through them that the surrounding world is known. The Salesian Ariel Fresia presents an original point of view on the understanding of these hyperconnected natives.

Young people constitute a new social subject linked to communication, simultaneity, new network technologies and interfaces. For this reason, the way of establishing bonds and maintaining relationships becomes flexible and liquid, because they are interconnected without needing to inhabit a space and spending some time inside it. Barbero affirms that culture is configured "by three dimensions: the space of the world, the territory of the city and the time of the young". They inhabit multiple spaces and manage different temporalities, moving in a timeless time.

As natives of this epoch, young people know how to handle the elements necessary to develop in the fabric or thread of current culture. They were born in digital culture and in networks. Mutations in language, the mental ordering of information, multiple and diversified attention, spatial and temporal dimensions, must be variable to think about how this new youthful subject is formed within networks. The fact that we can connect with a young person through new communication technologies does not mean that we can learn if we do not also decode the way we perceive and develop in that culture. Being connected does not necessarily mean actually sharing their code. Adults are foreigners facing a new language and its rituals, with respect to which it is necessary to find common interpretative codes. It is not enough to maneuver the same available tools.

The adult-centric methods of referring to the ways of being of the young do nothing but leave the adults perplexed by the changes, without being able to articulate another proposal that is not apologetic. Many adults say that young people do not communicate and use technology only for recreational and instrumental purposes. Beyond contacts that are face-to-face or direct, young people communicate through another paradigm, live hyper-connected and develop different levels of non-directional communication. They build their subjectivity in communication technologies, networks and interfaces.

The processes of social mutation, cultural changes and technological revolution "expand exponentially due to their ability to create an interface between technological fields through a common digital language, in which information is generated, archived, retrieved, elaborated and transmitted." The field of communication is complex, a field in which young people intertwine new forms of bonds and the social construction of identity. In addition to the difficulties of accessibility there is a difference in cultural capital that disables the availability of communications resources, interconnections and hyperlinks. Both those who have access to cultural consumption and those who do not are both the recipients of pastoral proposals that are found on the borders of the ecclesial mission. Both youth subjects live in the middle of the fluidity of information, social networks and mediated communication.

Young people inhabit network technologies, find themselves in the network ecosystem and, therefore, can quickly cope with the change of era. For them, the coexistence of reality with digital is not a problem. They are not just technologies; they are forms of social articulation. Because relationships in networks are part of the constitution of subjectivity and are assumed by everyday life. Networks are part of the lives of young people and also ours, their contemporaries, although it costs us.

The networks constitute the new scenario of the subjective and the thread or fabric of bonds that is produced and reproduced there. If we want to think of pastoral practice by throwing nets into networks, it will be necessary to enter into the reality of young people, to understand their requests and their forms of connection; and then rethinking the interpretative frameworks and proposals.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".