Facebook fans of the world, stand up and be counted. You're now a member of Pope Benedict XVI's army! Aren't you proud? The head of the Catholic Church granted a papal blessing for social media this week:
If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth, and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.
But before you go back to popping up status reports on your kid's poop, take this with a grain of salt. Religious types who mess with the world wide web have a track record of going over poorly.
Take the sin-laced path of Rev. Cedric Miller, the New Jersey pastor who came out guns blazing for Facebook last fall, declaring our guilty pleasure the marriage killer. A few days later the world learned smooth talking Mr. Miller had already voided his own marriage vows with a naughty threesome. Just a little reminder that taking on the ultimate source of private information is not for the faint of heart. And Pope Benedict just made a big ol' blunder. Says the Catholic leader:
In the search for sharing, for 'friends' there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.
Oh Benedict. Don't you know anything about social media? You don't have your own Facebook page (Come on, don't be shy. I'd "like" you just to get you on my feed), but the Vatican site lets people post their faves on the site. You have to know something about how it works. Honesty and authenticity are no-nos numeros uno and dos.
Privacy experts will tell you the first rule of building a Facebook profile is deny, deny, deny. Fake your birthday. Ignore the hometown section. Keep your vacation statuses to yourself.
And that's just to keep your credit safe. Keeping yourself safe from total social suicide requires additional artifice. Because no matter how badly you want to type little junior's latest quip, you ... must ... resist or you'll be unfriended in droves. You don't have to whitewash the little booger out of your life, but a little subterfuge works wonders to keep your friends faithful.
So Benedict, while we appreciate the offer to overshare with your blessing, we're going to say thanks, but no thanks. Why don't you go back to naming our babies?
Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov/Flickr