Matt C. Abbott
April 4, 2011
Catholic parish warns against using social network sites
By Matt C. Abbott

I used to have a Facebook account. Not anymore, though. I closed it a while back. Yeah, I admit that I sorta' miss it at times — but not a whole lot. (I do have a Twitter account, but I rarely use it.)

It's true that a number of good priests, religious and organizations have Facebook accounts. Our own RenewAmerica.com even has one, and it seems to be doing rather well. But there's growing concern about social network sites, particularly due to the extensive use of such sites by minors.

My main parish, St. John Cantius in Chicago, is strongly recommending that families avoid using social network sites, especially the immensely popular Facebook and Myspace.

In the parish's April 3 bulletin, an article features David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect (which, ironically, has its own Facebook page).

"Facebook and other social media violate a person's privacy as it encourages young people a message to 'Publicize yourself!' The problem with this is that one's pictures, actions, and thoughts are shared instantly, globally and permanently," says the bulletin. "This is exactly the opposite of the Christian culture where people go into the secrecy and sacredness of the confessional to blot out their sins forever."

The bulletin lists four dangers associated with social network sites — dishonesty, predators, wasting time, and denying reality.

Says the bulletin:

"Obviously impurity is rampant as the medium engages browsers to outdo each other in boldness.... The system encourages [children] to break from all shackles of parental control by the common use of initials known only to users, like PIR (parent in room) or POS (parent over shoulder).... Other initials known only to avid users are common, e.g., GYPO — get your pants off — which is, as you can imagine, one of the more 'innocent' ones out there.... About one in every two children has been bullied or threatened online.... You make your own world and your own image to show off, for self-glorification, to feed vanity, and offer yourself an alternate reality.

"God entrusted parents with the care of their children for one particular purpose, and that is to teach them the way 'to know, love, and serve God in this life and save their souls hereafter.' Everything leads us to think that Facebook fits poorly into this plan and was devised for a very different goal."

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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