Pope: Don't Let Online Friends Trump Real Ones

Social networking requires 'serious reflection,' says Benedict
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2011 8:46 AM CST
Pope Benedict XVI waves at faithful at the end of the Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

(Newser) – Pope Benedict issued a warning to Facebookers, tweeters, et al today: Don’t let your online world overshadow your real one. While social networks offer "a great opportunity," he said, "It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives," Reuters reports. Users, he said should consider this question: "Who is my 'neighbor' in this new world?"

Social networking, he noted, can provide "dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations," but attention must be "paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world." Another danger: Being ever-present online, but "less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life." Reuters notes that the pope, who does not have a personal Facebook account, didn't mention any social networks by name.

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