Young people come together to share their views
Participants discussing whether technology is a help or hindrance to relationships. It was organised by Caritas Singapore Young Adults.
Does technology help to build better relationships between people? How can the pervasive use of digital technology help people reach out and help others in need? These were some questions that a group of 16 young adults discussed on Sept 26 at Agape Village.
The session was part of a series titled Creed on the Street (COTS), organised by Caritas Singapore Young Adults.
COTS is an ongoing series of discussions, open to all young adults, on a variety of issues that concern them such as poverty in Singapore, the mission of the family and environmental degradation.
It was started as a platform to bring together and inspire young adults to continuously and actively search together for the light of God’s wisdom and truth in the myriad of issues facing society today.
The discussion on Sept 26 began with Mr Alan Lim, an IT professional, giving a brief introduction to the topic and posing some questions. He shared some examples of the pervasiveness of digital technology today and its impact on people at the individual, interpersonal and societal levels.
Some examples raised were the use of the Internet for information sharing, and the effect of social media on social interaction, as well as the implications of lack of access to information on the Internet.
Participants then entered a time of open discussion, facilitated by Mr Keenan Tan, a student development officer.
A few participants voiced their concerns that the pervasive use of social media for communication could become a barrier to emotional connection in relationships, and constant bombardment of information on tragic situations locally and globally could potentially desensitise one to these situations.
Other participants felt that social media was neutral in itself and the nature of interaction largely depended on the persons involved. Said Ms Celeste Wee, a civil servant, “Social interaction in the digital space is not devoid of emotion; you do get emotional cues from reading a Whatsapp message, and often, if it is someone close, you can almost hear the person speaking the words. It is people themselves who build barriers, not technology.”
Another pertinent issue was how the pervasive use of digital technology and growing dependence on it might impact those who have limited access to it.
Ms Jessica Huang, a social worker, related the example of a family in a difficult financial situation who might not be able to afford an Internet connection or wifi at home, They would thus be unable to access messaging applications like WhatsApp, inadvertently excluding them from social circles.
The discussion led the young adults to a greater awareness of the daily struggles of the poor, and to consider the deeper question of whether access to a computer and the Internet should be considered a “primary need” of a person living in Singapore today.
The evening concluded with Mr Tan sharing excerpts on how the Church views social media networks, its calls for universal access to the means of social communication and what it considers to be the individual’s responsibility for appropriate use of digital media.
The guiding principle offered was that of responsibility: responsibility to God, responsibility to include and enrich one’s neighbour through social media and responsibility to one’s self to enter into authentic relationships with others, with the help of digital media.
For more information on COTS, visit www.caritas-singapore.org/about-us/young-adults/