Year 135 - May-June 2023Find out more

st anthony_Ing Mag-Giu 2023
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We are all connected: but do we really communicate?

Fr. Livio Tonello, director

st anthony feast 13 june

We all know the new applications and the functions of information technology such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, chat and so on... Above all it’s young people who are familiar with digital devices and master them. But we ask ourselves: do they really favour communication? It is true that the social network helps anyone in any place of the world to achieve knowledge and that it allows us to stay connected with each other no matter where you are. The “digital natives”, generally identified as the millennial generation, have spent nearly their entire lives surrounded by computers, digital devices and the world of social.

Mobile phones became “smart” phones that incorporate more and more features and they are considered computers. But do digital devices really favour communication? On the street, at the bar, even behind the wheel you see people with mobile phones in hand. Sometimes facing each other looking at a screen and typing something while ignoring each other. Technology is certainly a powerful communications media but social media can have negative effects on socialising. The English word “communication” derives from the Latin word “communicare” which means to participate or to transmit.

The word “Communicare” is derived from the root “Communis” which means to make common or to share to make the gift of yourself through voice, words, contact. Some people end a relationship with a text message, some others answer with an emoji: some people insult others on the internet far more freely than in personal situations because of the anonymity involved (by using a nickname). On one side smartphones have made communication more readily available almost anywhere in the world but on the other the biggest disadvantage of smartphones today is the distance from the loved ones, which contributes to a lack of social interactions.

People can no longer converse with someone sitting next to them for two minutes because they are so absorbed in their technology, rather than interacting with one another through speech, vision and the position of their body. I reflect on all this while I am thinking about Saint Anthony’s feast day on June 13. We know that Anthony’s preaching touched the hearts of many people listening to him not only because of his profound message but also because of his witness of life.

We must not demonise social media because information has always been transmitted by human means since cave paintings. Anyhow the message changes depending on its use. Even if it is so easy to talk on video calls and to send text messages the more time you spend interacting online the less time you spend interacting in person: this makes it more difficult to establish strong connections and solidarity. To do that we need our voice and our heart.