So, if you are a Catholic and not on Twitter – guess what, the Pope is calling you to sign up now. In his message for World Communications Day this year, he said that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are “portals of truth and faith” and are new spaces for “evangelisation” – so pretty much, spread the Word of the Lord to everyone on the Internet.
“Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his speech on Thursday, made on the feast day of St Francis de Sales – the patron saint of journalists and writers.
“Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means.”
“In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment.”
He also adds that social media can also “reinforce their sense of real unity” of the Church, and facilitate sharing of resources to assist in a believer’s spiritual life.
However, the Pope’s view isn’t entirely glowing. He does have some criticism with social media – mainly with the idea of popularity and celebrity, and fears that it could drown out tweets from Catholics.
“Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner,” he says.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea that they now recognise the importance of social media and that they need to adapt to new technology. Everything we knew twenty, or even ten years ago, has now been forced to modernise in order to attract the new generation of people – television, newspapers, education and even religion.
Social media can be great to meet like-minded religious people, but also great to see people from the opposite side of your beliefs. You can have a constructive debate on social issues. If you believe in something, you are free to believe in that. What right do I, or any non-believer of your particular faith, have to tell you that you’re wrong? What right do I have to tell you that you shouldn’t believe in that, or that your religion is stupid?
However, I do care if you become ‘preachy’ and saying that I’m wrong with no reason and how I live my life is wrong and sinful. I do care if you say to non-believers that they’re going to hell or whatever your religious equivalent is. Religion is a personal matter – and something that should not be used to attack a point of view.
It’s simple debating 101 – attack the argument, not the person.