In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols has voiced his concerns with online social networking. He specifically referred to Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, but also included email and text messages, suggesting that they all contribute to the dehumanisation of community.
Although all of the above forms of communication are used daily, by millions, the Archbishop’s concerns focus on the risk to young people’s wellbeing. Instead of interacting face-to-face, he fears that young people are increasingly becoming dependent on their virtual community for friendship. He anticipates this will cause a loss of social skills necessary to maintain close, mutually beneficial relationships, instead all that will remain is ‘an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast’. Such an outcome, he suggests, will lead to ‘transient relationships’, leaving the individual with no real support network when life is difficult, which may in turn contribute to suicide.
As well as his unease with virtual communication, Archbishop Vincent Nichols is also disquieted by other aspects of British society, not least modern football, where he suggests that ‘[t]here are echelons of football, as in society, where some players are clearly mercenaries.’
The Social Ethic of Religiously Unaffiliated Spirituality
By Siobhan Chandler
(Vol. 3, February 2008)
Secularisation and the ‘Holistic Milieu’: Social and Psychological Perspectives
By Roderick Main
(Vol. 3, April 2008)