Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook…
…We have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage - we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action. Even if you have faith in their good intentions, you feel misgivings about stepping into the elaborate shrine they’ve built to document your entire online life.
Already the most tech-savvy pontif in the long history of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has blessed conferred his blessing upon the social networking phenomenon that has revolutionized the way we communicate.
In a message entitled, “Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age,” Benedict said:
In the digital world, transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. … this dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations. On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence. … The new technologies allow people to meet each other beyond the confines of space and of their own culture, creating in this way an entirely new world of potential friendships.
It may not be a ringing endorsement of online trends, but it’s an important acknowledgement to be sure.
The Pope has already launched a new Vatican website www.pope2you.net made it possible for his flock to follow his speeches on their iPhones and iPods, according to Reuters, though he’s not on Facebook.