28 January 2010


Interesting social media news from God's ReTweeter himself last weekend, as Pope Benedict urged priests to evangelise via Twitter, Facebook and blogging, on his YouTube channel: "The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel'"

I know what you're thinking: "the Pope has his own YouTube channel?" Actually, the first thing that entered my head was: "Well, that will certainly make it easier for them to groom young boys for sex."

But in the spirit of enquiry, I thought I'd see how far this project has come, so I checked out the Pope's Twitter account for examples of his own 140-character 'microsermons'. Well, Benedict's right on the money - he's got his Twitter account up and running, and has already racked up 172 followers. Except he hasn't actually posted any tweets yet - not one. I think this is the most literal example of someone not practising what he preaches. And as head of a major religion that claims over 1 billion adherents (including the lapsed), 172 is a little disappointing.

He also isn't following anyone, which I suppose is fair enough until God gets a Twitter account. Being generous, I guess he fears that, were he to start tweeting and his entire flock to start following, lapsed or otherwise, he would permanently crash the Twitter servers, given how shaky Twitter was yesterday during the launch of the new Apple iHype device.

He does have a Facebook page, but, again, it only has two postings, the last one more than 18 months old. Now far be it from me to suggest that, just because he doesn't tweet himself, Facebook regularly, or have a blog, that he clearly doesn't actually get the the whole social media revolution. But it was only a year ago that the Pontiff was actually speaking out against the use of such media: in January 2009 he warned that “obsessive” use of mobile phones or computers “may isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development".

Believe me, Benedict, the old tweeting can get a bit compulsive, so maybe it's just as well you have drawn back from the brink before submitting to temptation. But if you do, I'll be waiting for your thoughts, as follower number 173.

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