The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, has warned children against the dangers of using social networking sites, such as MyGod and Jesusbook.
“Humans who become hooked on these sites lose the ability to detect mood and read body language, due to a notable decrease in the number of face-to-face conversations,” he warned. “If this continues, we risk ‘dumbing down’ human intelligence and ‘dehumanising’ community life.”
The Bishop condemned the ‘status symbol’ of such sites and the hierarchical nature they enforce. “Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain were professing to using such sites in the Presidential Elections to claim strategic ‘status points’,” ticked the Archbishop. “Barack Obama is an intelligent man. He should have known better.”
He went on to say that the ‘invisible friends’ people make via these sites often seemingly fade in and out of existence. “Sometimes I think they just don’t exist at all,” said one stricken user who had already renounced one entire set of friends for another. More worryingly, in times of real crises, these transient friends generally offer ‘no practical help.’
“Among young people often a key factor in them committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships. They throw themselves into a friendship, or one of these MyGod friendship groups, then it collapses and they’re desolate.”
“I think there’s a worry that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of secret one-to-one messages means that as a society we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community”, said the Archbishop.
“What children really need to do is turn to prayer,” he said. “At least, as all the evidence proves, there’s somebody at the other end who really does listen.”