66% of Italians express dissatisfaction with their society, a figure that jumps to 72% among the youth, according to findings from Censis’ study titled ‘The Temptation to Neglect’, presented in Rome at the Basilica of Saints Ambrogio and Carlo al Corso, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the ’74 conference on ‘The Ills of Rome’. We find ourselves in a paradox, as highlighted in the report; we inhabit a society marked by strong subjectivism yet inhabited by weak individuals, characterized by rampant individualism yet lacking in individual assertion, and exhibiting considerable selfishness while comprising fragile egos. In a world where an abundance of resources coincides with a shortage of purpose, widespread indifference prevails, leading to a prevailing attitude of neglect—a form of sin by omission. Censis denounces that fifty years after the diocesan conference on ‘The Ills of Rome’, indifferent subjectivism remains the primary concern.

The research further reveals the absence of community, with 66% of Italians dissatisfied with their societal structure (a figure sharply escalating to 72% among young people). Only 15% feel a strong sense of belonging to a community beyond their immediate family. More than half of the youth don’t identify with any community, and among them, three-quarters don’t even perceive this absence. Even among practicing Catholics, only 37% fully identify with a community. This lack of communal connection compounds the sense of insignificance felt within one’s living environment, a sentiment shared by 48% of Italians (and 60% of young people).

Moreover, the study points to a societal dependence on technology and platforms like WhatsApp, albeit with a resurgence in reading habits. Television consumption is on the rise (albeit primarily through internet-based platforms), and radio listenership is increasing (particularly in hybrid forms). The consolidation of the “biomedial paradigm” underscores contemporary media consumption trends.

The search for profound meaning in life, particularly within the spiritual realm, emerges as a significant theme. While 72% of Italians consider the spiritual dimension either “very” or “quite” important, only 19% view a meaningful life as one dedicated to benefiting others. However, 28% cultivate their spirituality by engaging in religious rituals according to their beliefs.

Despite these trends, there’s a pervasive lack of altruism and numerous regrets. A mere 18% of Italians feel they have nothing to reproach themselves for, while 64% lament their underutilized talents (a figure that swells to 70% among those aged 45 to 65). The parable of the talents resonates more deeply than that of the good Samaritan, with 64% experiencing guilt, primarily stemming from personal selfishness.

Giuseppe De Rita, President of Censis, reflecting on the research data, underscores the psychological underpinnings behind moments of neglectful indifference. He emphasizes the need to revisit the concerns of ’74 not merely as the ills of Rome but as the pressing issue of indifferent subjectivism. Today’s discussion involved De Rita and Laura Lega, Head of the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration at the Ministry of the Interior.

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