Feeds

The internet is 'a gift from God' says Pope Francis

But 'communication aimed at promoting consumption' is the work of the devil

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Pope Francis has shared his thoughts about the Internet, declaring it a wonderful thing but also expressing worries that it impair human relationships and inflict a kind of commercial violence on users.

Francis' thoughts are published here under the title “"Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter" - Pope's Message for World Communications Day”. The day, celebrated since 1967, is a Catholic Church invention designed to encourage reflection on how modern media can help to spread the Gospel.

The pontiff's central thesis is that “media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all”.

“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” Francis writes. “This is something truly good, a gift from God.”

But it's not all tweetness and light, Francis says, offering the following analysis of some downsides of online communities:

“This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.”

Francis also appears to have little time for social networks as they exist today, as expressed in this passage of his piece:

“Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road.”

Is that Facebook or the NSA he's referring to? Or both? You be the judge.

Francis wraps up with a call for media to facilitate what he calls “encounters” that bring us closer to one another and to God.

“It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply 'connected',” he writes. “Connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness.”

That last remark might sound like criticism of a site with the motto “Biting the hand that feeds IT”. Sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.