EJM Designs Limited Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

You've Been Poked by the Pope

Today, the 43rd World Day of Social Communications - taking place May 24th, 2009 - received a bump from the Vatican with the release of Pope Benedict XVI's public message for that day with the title "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."

In the release, he refers to "technologies" in reference to social networks as "truly a gift to humanity." From whom? Oh, I think you know.

He also, wisely enough, goes through a thoughtful examination of the double-edged sword that social media and internet communication in general has become. It has shrunk the world, allowing for instantaneous communication to...anywhere. But, as a consequence, it has turned many of us into a particular form of zombie, our unblinking eyes gilded by hard glow of the computer monitor. This type of communication is fine, but it should be harnessed to extend our human contact, not shut us away from it.

I'm not innocent or an objective analyst of these words, to tell the truth; On more than one occasion I've found myself blogging or searching for lost colleagues on Facebook until it was a question of should I even go to bed.

But will the Pope's words make a difference, today or May 24th or any day future or past to the tweens giddily adding Team Cullen images to their MySpace Twilight album or the guy down the street who's got a WoW poopsock weekend all planned? Does it matter to me?

I can tell you it should. For all the MySpace and LinkedIn and Twitter and Plaxo and Facebook connections I've made over the last few months, I have received 0 web-based leads that have resolved themselves into a client or business resource. It was only when I met people in person, when real, personal networking took place that I have reaped the rewards of connections. The best interactions happen not by IM but by me.

I can't say I'm the biggest fan of or agree with everything the Pope says, but I do believe he's got this one right. Maybe it'll hold a little more weight than a shouting - or worse: absentee - parent.

(FYI - I did search for Pope Benedict XVI on Facebook and MySpace but could find no credible representations. The Vatican's going to have to get on the stick on that.)

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