Pope Francis has been one of the most prominent religious figures to be active online with his popular Twitter account. He currently has over 3.5m followers on his English account, with eight other accounts in different languages.
Pope Francis sent a message to the world in celebration of the 48th World Communications Day. He wrote about the world forever growing smaller, which is bringing us all closer, as we are able to communicate and connect on a global scale.
The message is poignant and will resonate with audiences across the world. You don’t need to be a devout Catholic, or believe in God, or have any faith in any religion whatsoever, to understand his point.
He wrote: "In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all."
Pope Francis highlights the cons of the internet and how much we connect, as it can isolate people in the real world and we can often have strong opinions that others don’t favour. In other words, he’s talking about those internet addicts who forget what outside looks like, and the online trolls that have a controversial opinion on everything.
He said: "The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us."
I think that the more connected the church is to the online world, the easier it will be for technology and religion to live in harmony together. Pope Francis is making that step, getting involved online and starting a conversation, not always necessarily about religion, but about life, and the pros and cons of our social media culture.