Italy – Living in digitized world. Invitation to cultivate profound gaze

15 April 2020

(ANS - Rome) - I'm connected, therefore I exist: this could summarize the phenomenon that sees the youth world increasingly immersed in the virtual network. Real life tends to coincide with uninterrupted interaction with the network. In this new world, what is radically lacking, from an educational point of view, is the possibility of assistance in the classical sense of the term: personal media are individual and provide for unsocial and unaccompanied use. It is the young person who decides with whom to be connected and with whom to relate.

The fulcrum of the decision is the individual subject, considered responsible and capable of making the best decision. We know, however, that this is not always the case. The network not only weakens the ability to read reality deeply; it takes away the critical spirit that needs concentration and reflective distance, and exposes us to unfiltered opportunities that may end in behavior (pornography, sexting, online gambling ...) that in addition to being morally unspeakable, risk becoming pathological, disrupting the shared social, cultural and moral fabric.

For young people, this can only increase fatigue in the effort to become adults.

A weakening and greater fragility of the human are inevitable consequences of the fact that we are submerged by a huge amount of communication material.

The identity of young people today is increasingly being formed in the media, and in a form increasingly linked to the purchase and consumption of products continuously offered by the global market. This consumption is then continuously supported by the research that takes place through the tastes and preferences attested by social networks. "In contemporary society, it is above all consumption set in one's free time that provides young people with the symbolic and expressive materials to be used in the path of self-construction," specifies Geraldina Roberti. Fashions thus take on the irresistible force that comes from the desire to fill the void which is instead a structural characteristic of the human and which only the experience of authentic love - which is not virtual - can fill.

What happens today is an unstoppable process of the instrument that tends to transform itself into "master," adds Pierangelo Sequeri, versus servant.

The strategy to escape, get out of the possible "idolatrous" drift of communication tools is first of all to recognize their instrumental functionality, to which they must be related. The rediscovery of human language in its richness and expressiveness, then, is the first winning strategy: a rich, affectionate, communal relationship, capable of restoring human reason. One also needs the critical sense of the educator. If adults are mature in the management of social communication tools, there are the conditions for an alliance in view of an ecclesial use of the potential of the network, making young people jointly responsible, who can thus put their multimedia expertise and combine it with the knowledge of adults. From the pastoral point of view, it is therefore important not only a way of warning young people, but a true and proper catechesis for adults.

As the Fathers of the Church did in confronting the extraordinary inheritance of Greek culture, so too the opportunities and dangers of the network, it is necessary to "sift through everything", aware of dangerous illusions and traps. But, guided by the Holy Spirit, it will also be possible to discover precious opportunities to lead men to the Lord.

The announcement requires authentic and direct human relationships: the Internet is not enough, technology is not enough. But the presence of the Church on the net is not useless; on the contrary, it is essential to be present, always with an evangelical style, in what for many, especially young people, has become a sort of living environment.


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.

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