Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cyberspace and the Church

"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 world is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but a real part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young."

These words are taken from the Communication Day Message of Pope Benedict that begins an article in the Catholic Times on the use of the digital possibilities for communication. The Pope mentioned that the social networks are helping to build a new "agora,"  an open public square, where people share ideas, information and opinions, and where new relationships and forms of community come into being. 

A number of graphs in the article reveal who are using the different media for news. The young born after 1982 are shown to be the more  frequent users of the Internet;  TV and the print media are used more by other age groups. A graph also shows that young people use the Social Network Service (SNS) much more than do any of the  other age groups, Facebook being the most popular, followed by Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The  Pew Research Center survey showed  that the SNS is used mostly for music and watching interesting images. Secondly, sharing personal matters with their virtual friends, followed by sports and politics; religion was at the bottom. To  the question, how often do you go to the Internet for Catholic content? 53 percent were not aware that one could do this, 16 percent go sometimes, 12 percent a little, 11 percent not much, and 8 percent go often.

Benedict had made it clear that we should not delay using the mass media, for the influence it has on society is great. Since the Catholic population of the world is over one billion, it is easily seen that a great number of Catholics would have access to the Internet.

The article mentions the obvious fact that with the internet we are dealing with an important reality in our lives that has influenced all of us, and consequently we need to make use of it to further our goals. Both Benedict and Francis have access to the SNS portals and have given us examples of how they can be efficiently used in the digital world. The Papa Francisco Facebook site has already topped 7 million viewers.

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