social-networking

The Pope explains the power -- and danger -- of Twitter

Jan. 24, 2012 at 2:11 PM ET

Marco Prosch / Getty Images
ERFURT, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Benedict XVI visits the main altar of the Dom cathedral on September 23, 2011 in Erfurt, Germany. The Pope is in Erfurt on the second of a four-day visit to Germany.> on September 23, 2011 in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo by Marco Prosch/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI — who happens to be the first Pope on Twitter, thanks to the Vatican's official account —  spoke about our relationship with search engines and social networks on the World Day of Communications. In his message, he described how powerful something like a tweet can be — as well as the dangers it can pose.

The folks of the Rome Reports news service provide the full text of the Pope's message on their website — and I recommend giving it a read at some point — but I'll share one of the key parts of it right here:

In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. 

In plainer terms: Something as brief as a tweet can be used to convey important messages, but one should be careful to avoid becoming obsessed with sharing — because it could detract from one's ability to absorb information.

A balance between sharing — or speaking — and observing — or listening — is key:

When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.

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