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Young people, Do not live online

- Nigel Akuani

 

Port Moresby: Humans are social beings, who always strive for a sense of belonging and togetherness, to be part of a community.  Digital technology, a part of the social fabric of our lives contributes or limits us in our task.  

 

NBC Chat Room Program hosted its twelfth session on Wednesday 29thMay, 2019.  It had as its topic, the Word Communications Day theme: ‘From Social Network Communities to the Human Community.’ The show usually hosted by Tribe-FM at the NBC Radio Station, was this time held at the Catholic Bishops Conference, Gordons. It gave students from six institutions an opportunity to be part of this important chat room discussion.

 

The lively panel began by defining Digital Community from Human Community, the impact of digital revolution in society, the importance of human connection in the digital age, the need for the use of ‘Amen’, and made suggestions of how people could engage via the social networks.

 

Lead speaker Nigel Akuani introduced the topic by differentiating Digital Communities from a Human Community. “In Digital communities, people live in a fantastical world where responses, reactions and interactions all occur in mind, not in person. In a human community, all interactions are physical and happen here and now, face-to-face,” he said.

 

Second speaker Abigail Seta spoke on the immense influence the digital revolution had on society, and said there was the need for more human and physical interaction. “The more people tend to use the Internet and social media platforms, the more addicted they tend to become. So, the Internet becomes like a spider-web that draws us in and entraps us with no way of escaping,” she said.

 

Mr Akuani also highlighted that a human connection was essential as people learnt better during social interaction. “Physical interaction is important because we get to express intimacy and empathy that are necessary for human discourse. Humans are social beings and need to coexist with others, no one is self-sufficient and everyone needs to rely on each other.”

 

Third speaker Noel Langu stated that the use of ‘Amen’ instead of ‘Like’ needed become a reality. “Liking what someone posts or shares is not that hard, you just hover over the ‘Like’ icon and click it. But when you take the time to do something about it, that is an ‘Amen.’  That shows people are reaching out to you.”

 

The panel’s final speaker Nyleptha Kenny, emphasized that the digital community’s influence on human social interaction today. “There are good and bad features about social network communities, and the Internet is at our fingertips. But it is all up to us to make sure that we use them for positive purposes.”

The panel also had two guest speakers, Principal of Jubilee Catholic Secondary Mrs Bernadette Ove, and Principal of Marianville Secondary, Mrs Monica Keanga. 

 

Mrs Ove stated that today’s way of interacting among young people had changed drastically since the introduction of digital platforms. “In today’s schools you will hardly find a student taking the time to read a book, compared to in the past before the introduction of digital technology. But hopefully, this will be addressed under the newly introduced Citizenship and Christian Values Education Subject.”

 

Mrs Keanga cautioned that the influence of social network platforms was very real and could be detrimental to a student’s life. “Since 2008 when I became Principal to today, I have seen a rise in the number of disciplinary cases brought before me, and there have been instances where students were expelled.”

 

The panel was then asked a couple of questions from the live audience seated in the room. A student of Marianville, Beatrice Bal, wanted to know how interpersonal skills could be improved in students. Evelynne Sepa of Jubilee Catholic Secondary asked how social media could be used more responsibly. Trevor Dauba of Don Bosco Technical School, asked if isolation was beneficial to avoiding peer pressure.

 

The show had an audience of over fifty participants.  The participants were students from UPNG, Jubilee Catholic Secondary, Marianville Secondary, Don Bosco Technical School, Caritas Technical Secondary, and La Salle Technical College. 

 

The show’s next session on Wednesday June 5th, will be having the St Cecilia Youth Group discussing the theme ‘Laudato Si Generation’.