Normally we don't take advice on social media from 84-year-old priests, but let's hear Pope Benedict XVI out on this one. In today's annual message on communication, the Pope says that people today are being overstimulated by Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other various Internet things, citing the need for some quite time among all that online chatter.
Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers – indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.
The Pope, of course, isn't completely against going online (unlike many of the other things young people do). In past messages on communication, the AP notes, he "has urged priests to blog and Catholics who spread the faith on Facebook and other social networks to be respectful of others." And he's the first Pope on Twitter. But this year he's asking the faithful to take the occasional break from posting online, for some silence to listen and understand. And despite his age, Benedict XVI (or at least his handlers) don't have a bad handle on what, for example, Twitter is all about. "Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life." Hmm, "superficial and unquestioning exchange." Amen. That is what most of Twitter is.