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back to article Archbishop condemns Facebook, email, footballers

The leader of England and Wales' Roman Catholics took aim at social networking, rampant individualism and overpaid footballers this weekend. Vincent Nichols, the recently installed Archbishop of Westminster, told the Sunday Telegraph that social networks, along with mobile phones and texting, were in danger of "dehumanising" …

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Hmm

I hate to say it, but a lot of what the bish says makes sense.

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Ha!

A religious spokesperson railing against imaginary friendships.

Yup, heard it all now.

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Anonymous Coward

so

So says a man who believes there's a man in the sky who watches everything you do.

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Stop

I recall a southpark episode ...

....about catholic priests.

Makes me ggile when I hear them moan about bums on seats and stuff.

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FAIL

email is bad and impersonal?

And how precisely is praying to the great space fairy any different? Other than the 100% packet loss, of course.

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Balls

On the BBC comments page at http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=6827 it seems there is an almost universal feeling that the Archbishop is full of s**t. Unsurprising really.

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Big Brother

Bottom line

Stop spending so much time in front of your PC and spend more time in church says church leader.

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Silver badge

Where to start?

Bobby Kennedy once commented "20% of the people are against everything". It seems this 20% has got itself an unelected (unless you're a bishop) voice. Whatever changes are afoot, the catholics think they're a bad idea. Although whether a priest is qualified to comment about the relationships that normal (i.e. ones who have not taken a vow of celibacy, poverty and dedication to god) people choose to have, is debatable.

This just seems to be another illustration of just how cut off these guys are. Which may provide some clues about why their congregations are at an all-time low, their recruitment rates are catastrophic and their credibility virtually non-existent . Even worse: their weekly collections are suffering massively.

Maybe if god got him/her/it/them-self a facebook page, starting taking paytpal and got on the twitter - that would start to address both the credibilty and popularity issues - though Sheryl Crow would have to update her song about "nobody calling on the phone / except the pope maybe in rome"

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Pint

I agree

First with CallMeDave and now an RC Archbishop. I think I may need a little lie down ...

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Silver badge
Megaphone

Cyber Space Faeries

My invisible friend is MORE real than all your invisible friends.....all 500 of them!

Nananananahhh....

Peace be with you, and may the great sky-daddy bless your nads, etc.

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Hmmm

I actually agree with what he says. It's not far off from my own thoughts on social netoworking sites and mobile phones.

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Anonymous Coward

The Bishop is talking sense.

Even people who believe in imaginary deities speak sense occasionally. Don't let you anti-theist and religophobic attitudes blind you to this. Not everything that a religious person says is utter tripe.

In any case, God doesn't fall out with people over facebook.

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He is right.

The Archbishop is completely right. Individualism turns to alienation, and though technology can bring us together, it keeps everyone at arms length and by its nature prevents intimacy. I was surprised that people were viciously attacking a man that is speaking the truth, but then I realized how easy it is to show false passion through an anonymous message - I rest my case. Oh, and, of course, the English have quite the history of persecuting and even slaughtering Catholics - just sayin'.

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par

cant help but feel a bit annoyed with the penultimate par - it suggests the church should somehow issue a statement 'Internet bad' or 'Internet good'

I'm sure this chap in W'minster thinks that there are some elements of the interenet that are beneficial to society - but then that wouldn't work as well for a story as 'GODMAN HATES INTERNET'

Besides - i'm sure there are conflicing views coming forth from all organisations even the reg

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@AC

"Other than the 100% packet loss, of course."

You made me laugh so loud the people around me are looking at me...

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FAIL

Can you spell...

Can you spell 'desperately trying to convince people you're not irrelevant now'?

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Anonymous Coward

In other news ...

... atheist accuse religious types of "dehumanising" people. We're all cannon fodder in some bizarre Manichean struggle against reality, you see.

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Gold badge

Re: Balls

Another source of rib-ticklers here is to dig through the Torygraph archives for the transcript of their debate between the ArchDruid and Philip Pullman.

Put it this way. One of them comes across as not really believing in anything very strongly and it ain't Philip Pullman.....

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Alien

In 21st Century Teh Chnology Learns You.

First it was the Spinning Jenny, then it was wireless radio, then it was condoms, now it is the Internet. What next will They blame for The Downfall Of Humanity?

What the faithful never seem to grasp is that science is not an alternative religion: it is a fundamentally different philosophy, altogether. Whereas science is a bottom up concept which seeks to explain our universe by repeatable experiment, changing its rules to fit observable reality, religion is top down, seeking to explain our whole world with one grand thought. When new information is discovered, science adapts its principles to accomodate that information. On the other hand, anything that doesn't fit the proscribed religious doctrine - that which claimed to have all the answers from the word go - must necessarily discard new information as anomolous. Thus all religions claiming Knowledge of Eternal Truth must eventually reach the point where more information has been discarded than accepted. This difference in outlook is what enables science to adapt, but religion inevitably grinds to a halt as its relevancy decreases linearly and its redunancy becomes increasingly obvious.

Therefore, it is not surprising The Church rails against technology; as science discovers more about how the world works on an empirical level, religion can only recontextualise itself into progressively more etheric regions of thought, as yet untouched by the cold light of experimental data. In this current climate where data is accumulated at an exponential rate, the Bish should stick to that at which he is best - providing comfort to those afeared of the vaguaries of the afterlife (at least until we get some hard fact - surely not too long in coming). In this increasingly real world he is clearly out of his depth.

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Anonymous Coward

utter bollocks

If kids think that "virtual friends" are the same as "real friends" - then he might have a point.

But IMO the vast majority of kids' social networking is with people who they already know in the real world.

Roman Catholics should stick to what the're best at: Liturgy, Misogyny, Homophobia and turning a blind eye to child abusers.

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WTF?

Pie in the sky.

Why doesn't this this cleric just get on the hot-line to the Chief Fairy and ask him to sprinkle some magical dust along the digital highway? Divine filtering would also be useful for eliminating other annoyances like freedom of expression and images of people having sex for pleasure rather than purely for procreation.

Alternatively, the guy could spend a lot more of his time putting his own house in order. At the last count, the Catholic church had paid out several billions in compensation to vulnerable young people who had been abused by priests. The priests themselves were victims of the unnatural and repressive system of Catholic seminary education which is based on the Jesuit injunction 'Give me the child and I will give you the man'

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rachael

I agree with you. In some cases it may be easier for some youngsters to comunicate via technology rather than develop social skills when they are perhaps shy or lacking in confidence. This is a concern for me as i have children myself and i hope that they will develop all these skills before they reach adulthood as is normal in my opinion. However texting and computers may delay this development and in some cases it may prove fatal as these poeple may become either reclusive and a danger to them selves or perhaps apear selfish as they may lack apropriatness as when to say and do certain things by reading body language etc. Either way they will have to learn late and fast or they could end up very lonely individuals. I think that this is something that should be controlled by parents. Being a parent myself I know that sometimes its easier to give in but who said parenting is easy hahaha

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Stop

Re: Hmm

Oooohh... is it Troll time already?

The trouble with people of religious belief is that they believe that stating a fact (or even something just probable) this somehow makes everyything else they believe credible, like these things are connected.

For example, are religious people more, or less likely to kill themselves?

The statistics show that more agnostics/athiests kill themselves, thereby proving that religion is a good thing, but of course this is a load of shit because;

o Desperate and despairing people will often exclude those who are close, family, friends, social groups etc. sky fairy beliefs will become irrelevant to them.

o Statistically, when a practicing religious person ends their life they are far more likely to take other people with them (typically family), the statistics are skewed even more dramatically because of suicide terror attacks, bombings etc. in other words more people die because of religious suicide than non religious suicide.

o Religion as a control mechanism prevents suicide by teaching people not to question and to threaten eternal punishment for a victim of suicide, whether ot not ths is a bad thing depends on your point of view.

Personally, I'd rather read Albert Camus than the bible, I'd rather think for myself, enjoy myself, believe that life is a one-time thing, try to make life a little better for at least one other person, I know that if I wanted to I could end my life, but I've decided not to because, for me a lifetime of something is better than an eternity of nothing, Religion has no answers, it just stops people asking the questions.

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Anonymous Coward

100% <.<P

100% packet loss, not quite - as George Carlin said - he prayed to Jo Peshy, seemed a good chap, and the return was about the same as when he prayed to God, fifty fifty, sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. So he worshipped the sun and prayed to Jo.

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Bronze badge

Oh for heaven's sake

His eminence wasn't saying the Internet bad, the Church uses it, a lot, as well as Social Networking.

What he was saying was that Social Networking isn't a substitute for have real live friends that you meet in person and develop relationships with, and that it's better of have lots of friends you see and physically interact with, rather than use electronic means. It is a hell of a lot harder for people to lie, mislead, misunderstand etc. when you meet in person.

To that end I agree, social networking is a useful means of keeping in touch, more interactive, but it isn't a substitute for real people meeting, even in business, you cannot develop a real relationship electronically because you cannot replicate the physical characteristics, emotions and other non-verbal characteristics of a person to person physical meeting, typing :-) doesn't mean I'm happy, just that I want you to think I am.

Sadly we are all tending to become more insular and welded to our computers, to not make friends with our neighbours when we move, or move on for other reasons.

Think about a the whole thing.

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Bronze badge

Because communicating a lot in new ways is bad because...?

I am puzzled. I see people, especially teenagers, hanging out together, then texting each other without pause, then phoning each other. They seem to be interacting, bonding and socialising far more than anyone could in the past.

And if, by the age of 6 or 7, you haven't learned how to read body language, take cues from behaviour, etc., then you probably have some form of autism. This is not meant sarcastically.

Those who are taken in by false friends and superficial relationships always have been -- lonely spinsters fleeced by sleazy rascals, foolish shy men taken for all they are worth by gold-diggers, bullies taking advantage of someone's gullibility and need to trust -- the avenues for this sort of cruelty are now wider, but human nature seems to remain inviolate through the ages.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Where to start?

"...though Sheryl Crow would have to update her song about "nobody calling on the phone / except the pope maybe in rome""

Umm, that wasn't Sheryl Crow; it was Joan Osborne.

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Rachael

In response to Hollerith 1. I agree that majority of children should and will develop skills in reading body language by the age of 6/7. I would like to ask you how you feel about the growing number of parents (especially mums in my experiance - no offense), who spend most of their day on face book and leave their children sat in front of either a tv or a computer game. How are these young individuals expected to learn social and imaginative skills by the age of 6/7. For me it isnt something that my own children are experiancing however many are and it is happening right across england. This is surely something (putting religion aslide) that should be addressed?

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J 3
Alien

@Arun Marsh

"Besides - i'm sure there are conflicing views coming forth from all organisations even the reg" [sic,sic,etc.]

True, except El Reg (and most other organizations) does not claim to know the Absolute Truth as dictated directly to their Head Editor by god(s). When you do claim that, then having contradictory opinions inside the organization does get a little embarrassing, at least for those of the thinking persuasion.

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J 3
Paris Hilton

Bollocks, mostly

OK, so the priest has a little, obvious point: anything can be abused and lead to one's harm. Interesting that he didn't include homosexual pedophilia in his list of terrible things threatening the yuff...

Anyway, I and my friends use Facebook quite a bit, for example. Speaking for myself, I only have people whom I met in person on my FB list (~150 people now). And we use it to share photos of the latest parties or outdoor adventures, schedule said parties, hikes, bike rides, use it as an "email list", share interesting links to videos, articles, whatever. Or just to stay in touch with the ones who moved to far lands (quite common in science, when people come, get their degree or a few years experience, then leave). Nothing that couldn't be done otherwise, granted, but quite convenient. At the same time, I have friends who have close to a 1000 FB friends. Don't know if they really know all those personally, but that's not a problem. I see them in person and they are seemingly as "normal" as everyone else. Why not connect electronically? It's not my thing, but unless that's all that people do ( and feel bad about it), then I don't think it's a problem. These "virtual friends" might get in touch in the analog world someday, and that's usually a good thing.

Due to the (sensationalist) nature of news, we only hear about the few mentally ill people who end up killing themselves listening to some Ozzy song or something. Nobody wants to report (or read) about the many millions who do nothing weird about it.

So, what is the cause and what is the symptom?

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Grenade

Flat relationships

I think the bishop has a point, to some extent. The problem is not with social networking per se, but with the way how some people use it.

I don't think there is anything wrong with social networking, provided it's not a substitute for real relationships (which is what the bishop seems to imply). For instance, I use FB to keep in touch with my old friends whom I probably wouldn't contact as regularly (using the term loosely) otherwise.

The problem with FB is with flattening of social relationships/connections: everyone's a "friend", even though in real world, you have close friends, not-so-close friends, acquaintances and so forth. I suppose one could set up FB groups for them, but I never bothered. I share very little info on FB, just because I wouldn't necessarily be comfortable sharing pictures and comments (!) with just everyone on my FB friendlist.

And then, some people just add "friends" for... I don't know... numbers?

If someone starts treating these "friends" as proper friends, I can see a problem here. And hence the time bomb, or a grenade, I suppose.

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Thumb Up

I think he's probably right...

...he just didn't communicate it especially well. He has a point about the culture of the interweb, but tarnishing the human race with a sudden lack of interpersonal skills isn't hugely accurate; teenagers are always going to seem as unapproachable by old bishops, no matter how wise either party thinks they are.

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IT Angle

The concept of “community” has been eroded already.

I ask you how a community can exist with without a common language, values or beliefs?

Diversity is a double-edged sword. I don’t even have to cite racial differences, look at Northern Ireland. Protestants and Catholics are hardly living in perfect harmony there. The concept of community there has escalated into a “them and us” mentality. Unfortunately the problem multiplies with the addition of ethnic and language differences. This is not a raciest thing to say, but a sad fact about society. Individuals gravitate towards others with the same language and beliefs they have.

In fact, the Internet is even more polarising when it comes to beliefs, it’s full of people with the belief that the O/S they use is the best.

Actually, I’ve just had a thought; perhaps the Archbishop is worried there will be a “Church of the Penguin” turning up? Or maybe a “Sect of the forbidden fruit”?

Much as we like to spout off about our intelligence, we humans are tribal and we don’t tolerate difference very well.

Anon because of Godwin’s Law.

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Happy

not too late

to rail against other forms of impersonal communication like telephones and letters

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Anonymous Coward

I have a lot of fun with technology...

but I have to agree with the Archbishop on this.

Hey, maybe parents could do something about ensuring their children participate in school, sports, the Arts, life, etc...

Oh wait, that would imply there should some sort of responsibility involved in the parent child relationship.

What was I thinking?

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Unhappy

I think the comments here prove his point.

How many people would dare insult someone's beliefs to their face, and yet hiding in the anonymity of the internet you happily do it?

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Partial right

Individualism on it's own isn't a bad thing. Infact it should be something that is thought to everyone. How to think with your own head distinguish yourself from others and so on.

What is bad is that most people now-a-days don't. Sad but true.

What he is proposing is that people get to togheter without trying to kill each other and have some fun time without all the gadgets etc... It's sad when you see two people sitting side by side each texting to the other what they are thinking.

Yes it makes is easier for some people. I know IRC and the interactions online made me a better person overall but I didn't have 20billion people as my friends. I don't feel to odd now in groups and it actually thought me good team work and so on. It's all about how one takes the technology and how one uses it.

I hardly use my cell phone... But I used to use it a lot. Simply no need for me. If I want something from someone chances are I'll go to that person directly and talk in person.

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FAIL

@windywoo

"How many people would dare insult someone's beliefs to their face, and yet hiding in the anonymity of the internet you happily do it?"

Actually, I've spent the majority of my life willing to tell someone when they are talking complete B.S.

There are exceptions, of course. When someone is running their mouth at work, I generally encourage them to just shut up - often even if I agree with them. I also don't bother people who don't go around evangelizing or otherwise trying to push their morals onto other people. Those that do, however, have always been fair game - to their face or otherwise.

-d

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