Pope gives social media his blessing

January 26th, 2011 by Patrick Chester


Well, that’s a relief.

Demonstrating once again that the Catholic Church has its finger firmly on the pulse of modern life, the pope has issued his guidelines for using social networking. Social media is going to be the next big thing, apparently.   

The pope is described as having “little direct personal experience with the internet”, which makes the internet sound like a complicated and obscure mechanical tool, rather than something which is instantly accessible through almost any desktop computer in the world.

I understand he’s 83 years old, but keep in mind that the oldest Facebook user is 103 years old (and she updates from an iPad!). The Daily Mail calls her “iGran”.

Despite obvious misgivings, it’s actually not half bad advice for social media enthusiasts to take on board.

In easy-to-digest points, here are the highlights:

1) Be aware of the one-sidedness of online interaction. The pontiff said there is a “tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world” and a “risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence.”

2) Don’t use social networking too much. The pope said it is negative to “enclose oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or have excessive exposure to the virtual world”.

3) Don’t create dodgy online profiles. Pope: “In the search for sharing, for ‘friends,’ there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.”

4) Be polite throughout any interactions with people in the digital world. The pope said online communication needs to be “honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.”

No more angry YouTube comments, then.

5) Don’t try and pander to popularity. “We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its ‘popularity’ or from the amount of attention it receives.”

Replace “truth” in this line with “video of the cat doing the funny thing”, and it becomes real-world applicable.

Please visit the pope’s official website at Pope2you.net and click on the “Digital Christmas Video” if you would like to see a witty re-imagining of the Story of the Nativity, complete with Google Mail and Twitter.

Mary even checks into Foursquare to see if there is any room at the local Bethlehem inns.

About Patrick Chester

Patrick is an account executive at Staniforth. He also runs a book review site at www.Jungla.co.uk.

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