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  • Carlos Méndez

EDUCATING IN THE DIGITAL AGE - SHAPING TOMORROW


In the digital era, many people think that communicating is having the possibility of accessing social networks, following a profile, "liking" attention-grabbing posts, sharing daily memes, or sending the "San Antonio chain" on WhatsApp... On the other hand, many people think that "communicating" means producing digital content, posting it on a social network and getting lots of "Likes", without realising that they have been trapped by the phenomenon called the "triumph of the selfie", in which people, instead of establishing true communication, reinforce the desire to be recognised.

Some people have become so dependent on digital media that they develop behaviours that denote abnormal situations, some pathological cases such as addiction, because they have not been aware or oriented in the correct use of digital media and in the human concept of communicating.

With all this, we do not seek to discourage anyone in their desire and impulse to develop certain communication proposals, and even less so in digital proposals. On the contrary, we would like to propose some elements that will help us to improve our relationship with the media, especially digital media, and to know how to guide, as pastors and educators, the generations that run the risk of losing the true meaning of communication.

Communicating is an exchange: When we think that communication is only the transmission of a message, we betray the most essential concept of communication: interaction between people that generates an exchange of messages with meaning. True communication occurs when the process of reciprocity and interaction of the parties takes place. In this sense, it is not just sending a message but being able to receive and interpret the response to the given message.

Communicating is listening: We cannot forget the tri-functions of communication: listening to oneself, listening to others, being listened to by others. In these three functions, we find the process of reflection and the capacity for empathy, which are the keys to being able to have an impact on the lives of others. Today's generations lack the ability to know how to listen and to be listened to, and therefore, we are invited to be the models of listening.

We cannot not communicate: Every act we perform communicates. Our words, our gestures, our writings, our videos, the posts we make on networks—everything communicates. But this does not mean that everything we publish is what we really want to communicate. We often forget that, in the digital age, everything that is published on the web is public; therefore, it is susceptible to judgment and can be interpreted exactly the opposite way to what we would like it to be. That is why our communication must be well-formulated and well-targeted.

To communicate is to educate: A parent, a teacher, a trainer, etc., is a communicator of knowledge which they learn from their own experiences. When we communicate any information or message, we must be sure not to make any mistake. Fake news is very common nowadays. We must avoid the risk of being identified one among the crowds. By communicating effectively, we will gain trust and credibility from our recipients.

Communicating means creating bonds: The trend in social media management today points to the creation of digital communities formed by groups of people who share common interests or keep in touch through digital media. Our actions as educators and pastors invite us to enter the digital environment and create communities to benefit others and to overcome the loneliness that the use of digital media often leaves us with. By living this objective, we feel more in tune to share experiences and generate bonds that allow us to feel like brothers and sisters to one another.

Our lives and the current conditions force us every day to deepen our actions. Let us always look for ways to put our experiences into practice and to be educators-communicators at all times. Therefore, in order to deepen these issues, we invite you to participate in the Communication Conference to be held in Rome from 1 to 7 August 2024.


P. Carlos Méndez SDB

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