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Bob Gilligan directs the Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state, and is an advocate for issues of importance to Catholic families, schools and social service agencies.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Do new communications vehicles lead to misunderstandings?

Do you find yourself thinking in a 140 character limit?  Do you use abbreviations more than complete sentences?  If you can remember Ronald Reagan as President then Facebook, Twitter, is probably not where you go to interact with others.

In a recent study it was reported that the Millennial Generation, age 18-29 do not attend church as frequently as previous generations. What the study did not report is that compared to previous generations this generation is also less connected to other types of human interaction like community, neighborhood, fraternal and social clubs.  For the Millennial Generation a social club is more likely to be “virtual”; for previous generations it meant being in the physical presence of another. 

As the director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois where we see firsthand an increase in the ability of lawmakers to address many pressing issues there is little doubt that the political discourse in our state and in our nation is becoming more divisive.  I do not attribute all this to technology, but I think we have to re-evaluate how we interact with one another.  Being limited by brief communications can lead to misunderstandings and easier withdrawal and isolation from one another.  The human being is sacred and social.  We realize the dignity and rights of the human person through our relationships, in community.  Developing those relationships and having an understanding of each other takes time and more in-depth conversations with one another. 

There is no question that these applications and programs have allowed us to communicate more easily with people all around the world as well as reconnect with those we may have lost touch with over the years and renewed friendships.   But at the same time, relying too much on those means can also limit relationships and disconnect ourselves from a true sense of community.  How can one adequately convey your thoughts within the 140 character Twitter limit?  How do we truly understand others’ situations and needs without face-to-face interactions?

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Friday, March 12, 2010 9:21 AM

Bravo, Bob!

I agree. The more technological ways we invent to communicate, the less we actually communicate as human beings.

I would have to say that this has been the case in defending the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The internet has been a great resource for information, but it has also been a malevolent force for misinformation as well.

If people actually reached out to me and our CCHD program here in Chicago - rather than just believe everything they read on the internet - we would probably all have more in common than the differences we believe we have.

We would also be working much more effectively to break the cycles of poverty by learning of the value of both respect life efforts and Catholic social justice work....without ever comprimising our Catholic faith.

Rey F.

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