Communications Day celebrations study challenges of social media

Matters India Reporter

Nagpur: The Archdiocese of Nagpur on December 3 celebrated the World Communications Day stressing the need to spread hope and trust in a society besieged with fear and anxiety.

“The use of social media has become a medium of miscommunication creating fear and mistrust at times,” lamented Father Praveen D’Souza, who teaches philosophy at St Francis De Sales College, Nagpur.

The Dominican priest noted that people spend more time with the cellphones instead of interacting with people around them. “We can communicate in many ways, written or oral and even non-verbal,” he said opening the 51 World Communications Day in the central Indian city.

The program chose the theme, “Fear Not, for I am with you (Is 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

“We are called to be communicator’s God’s love. We are called to be in the world of communication and not to be addicted by it,” Father D’Souza stressed. He also said the Christ’s call not to be afraid but trust in his presence is the best assurance in the current dismal situation.

Abhishek Choudhari, a journalist who delivered the keynote address, termed the present media as the world’s deadliest weapon.

“We have too much of communication today through the swiftest means. And yet all the problems are because of lack of communication. It is deadlier than a nuclear weapon. Communication is the sharpest knife the world has seen. It can harm if it is wrong hands. It can give life when it is right hands,” he added.

Stating communication is process he said, “Communication has always existed. It was the beginning of creation. Universe’ first communication was ‘Let there be light.’ We came into being because of communication. Communication changed forever when a new sender entered. Before that only God communicated. The new sender’s message was a lie. Communication was distorted and a lie was made to appear as truth,” he added.

The “sender” in the modern time has taken the shape of smartphone. “This sender is more dangerous. We cannot stop it. Social media cannot be trusted. Traditional media still is the best and our only hope. It has credibility,” Choudhari asserted.

Jibin John, a teacher, illustrated the positive and negative effects of social media through visuals and said, “People are getting addicted to Social Media. Our first act on rising and the last before sleeping is to check the smart phone. In earlier time we engaged our free times playing together games. Now we sit with mobile games. So, social media is no more social. It is making us unsocial.”

Touching on the effect of social media among youth he said, “It is creating low-self esteem in youth. because they compare themselves with the others. They become depressed due to excessive use of social media. It also creates eating and sleeping disorders among them.”

He suggested the balance use of social media and technology. Switch off the phone when you have serious thing to do though logging off is the hardest button to clock.

“Social media is the updated version of Adam’s apple. The evil one is watching like a roaring lion. We have to be on our guard about the fake news passed around by the social media. To benefit us, we have to use the social media in a balanced way,” he exhorted.

Father Lijo Thomas, the public relations officer of the Archdiocese of Nagpur, speaking on “Church and Media” explained that information overload and on-going technological development has greatly impacted people and families.

The seminar was jointly organized by the Daughters of St Paul and the archdiocese.

The World communication Day is celebrated on Sunday before Pentecost, mostly in May. In India, it is celebrated at the end of the liturgical year and this year it fell on November 19.

The second Vatican Council, with its focus on bringing the Church up to date with the modern world, devoted a whole document to Communication media, Inter Mirifica. This document initiated the only worldwide annual celebration commissioned by the Council: World Communications Day.

The Popes have been consistent in the teaching that the communications media are gifts, given to us by God.

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