Blogosphere and Twittersphere Ghettos

Have you ever asked yourself whether you limit the blogs you read on a regular basis or the people you follow on Twitter to a very narrow group? I ask myself that question often, especially as I don’t have much time for blog reading. When I do, I try to make sure that I include blogs whose writers hold very different opinions from me, but I am not sure I always succeed. It requires effort. Similarly, in order to make sure I actually read what is on my Twitterstream, I only follow approximately one tenth of the people who follow me, but although my Twitterati are definitely weighted in the direction of religion and technology, I always aim to include a few whose views are ‘challenging’.

One of the great dangers of belonging to a group, any kind of group, is that one never looks outside. One takes all one’s ideas and values from within the group and creates a comfortable ghetto for oneself. I am utterly convinced of the truth of Catholicism and think there is nothing more exciting than exploring Catholic orthodoxy, but I treasure the insights of those who don’t. Perhaps the problem is that most of us are aware how little we know and are a bit reluctant to admit it. The other side of engaging with those whose views conflict with our own is the need for persevering prayer to the Holy Spirit and the hard work of making sure that we are genuinely informed. In these last few days before Pentecost it might be useful to reflect on the ghettos we have created for ourselves. Sometimes they are the result not of conviction but of laziness; and somehow, I don’t think the Holy Spirit is very keen on laziness.

Benedict XVI on World Communications Day, 5 June 2011

I liked this extract from the pope’s message but omitted to include it yesterday.

There exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.

To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it. In these new circumstances and with these new forms of expression, Christian are once again called to offer a response to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

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4 thoughts on “Blogosphere and Twittersphere Ghettos”

  1. Au contraire, I read the blogs of all sorts of people, with many of whom I would never have struck up a conversation in real life or had occasion to meet 🙂 Even if I had, it would have taken a long time to learn as much about what they think or how they think as I learn from reading their freely expressed writing. As a now-in-real-life friend met over the internet says, it’s very Platonic: a meeting of minds without bodies. One doesn’t have to overcome the impressions or inhibitions that are formed on the basis of a person’s appearance or accent.

  2. When I was doing Holy Stir way back when, one of the most oppressive thoughts was that one would only ever mix or converse with fellow adult Catholic males. Within that, of course, a vast range of characters, personalities, views, dispositions and so forth – but never outside of that restricted pool, other than the occasional letter from home (much welcomed) or bumping into a guest (far less wonderful). But then that was the chosen ‘school for beginners’, the nature of the enclosed life as we lived it then.

    This was long before the internet with its emails, its Facebook, MSN or Twitter etc. For which mercy, great thanks.

  3. This is the only Catholic blog I sometimes read (started at Lent). Although I was baptised and raised as a Catholic (amongst difficult circumstances — a Socialist [well, ok, ‘Socialist’] Middle European country where my father held a university post and in the immediate years following the death of Stalin, it was actually very difficult to practice one’s faith without fear of detection which might have meant the loss of my father’s job. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But I went from a religious practice riddled with anxiety of all sorts to a vapid, jolly, positivistic context in the US (with all due respect to exceptions and exceptional situations). It is very difficult for me to conceive of any group of people as forming a comfortable intellectual, emotional or spiritual ghetto for me. I WISH I had the problem of fighting off the temptations of such a ghetto.

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