The Pope Would Like You To Be Yourself Online

Pope Benedict XVI warned against "excessive exposure to the virtual world" in a statement released by the Vatican today. And he advised people to avoid giving "in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public persona for oneself".

The 83-year-old Pope didn't name his favourite social networks, but the head of the Catholic Church may as well have been talking about Facebook, MySpace or even Steam and Xbox Live while delivering a new address entitled "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age."

Be yourself online, the Pope says. And don't worry about being popular - which I guess means, in this context for Catholics, don't worry about how many Facebook friends, Twitter followers or Steam buddies you have.

The task of witnessing to the Gospel in the digital era calls for everyone to be particularly attentive to the aspects of that message which can challenge some of the ways of thinking typical of the web. First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its "popularity" or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction.

The Pope seems happy about the opportunities for learning and interaction online. But he's against the exact kind of false online personas that might be responsible for otherwise nice people becoming monstrous jerks online.

He's zeroing in that when he laments "the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one's interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence."

Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age [Vatican Website](Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)


    I concur :o

    for every person who follows me i'll be a good roman catholic for a day!

    Wait wait wait wait. The pope is warning against onesided interaction?

    The POPE?

    The "I'm an infallible conduit for gods will so I'm 100% right all the time and if you disagree with me you're wrong so shut the fuck up and do whatever I say" pope?

    The "Noone needs to know the results of the child molestation investigations I was responsible for because the situation has been resolved and no I'm not going to tell you who, why or how" pope?

    That pope?

      Do what he says, not what he does... that's the religious way!

    Hiding behind animosity lets people say what they truly think or act how they really want to. So without the constraints of what society accepts and, for the most part, the ramifications, isn't how we act online closer to our true self then how we act publicly offline?

    “in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public persona for oneself”.

    The hypocricy is NAUSEATING! Here is an artificial public persona representing the biggest artificial illusion of all time. Does the media even need to report this? Does anyone care?

    If this illusion is going to keep me safe online, then the pope can suck my nads. Though he probably wont because Im over 16.

    Ive been pretending to be the Pope online for years..

    Now what am I supposed to do?

    You know when you meet someone for the first time, especially someone you're dating, and then a few months down the track you really start to get to know them?

    Its what people do, everywhere. It's not an internet phenomenon, its just a little easier for some people to take it to the extreme when online. ;)

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