Sadly, this post is not about LARPing

Try as I might, I can’t find a way to relate this week’s subject – global governance of media – back to LARPing.  [Or perhaps this is a failure of imagination on my part; maybe there are some (very nerdy and/or very hip) LARPers out there recreating the WSIS conferences.  But I think not.]

But what I DO want to talk about is how Pope Benedict XVI wants a piece of the global governance pie.

First your little sister got on Facebook, and it was weird.  Then your mom got on facebook, and you did some serious privacy-setting adjustment.  And now, you can connect with the Pope via facebook.

Pope Benedict XVI is remarkably connected for an 82 year old man; in addition to his facebook app he also ushered in a Vatican YouTube channel. And in a recent speech he asked Catholic bloggers to “give a soul to the internet’s incessant flow of communications,” by being visible and active Christians on the web – in essence, by witnessing via blogs and social media.

Now, as Time magazine stated,  the Catholic Church was “was built on its capacity to communicate with a global audience”.  The nature of the church today is, I would argue, similar to that of the nation: its identity is constructed, sustained, and revised not only through the official church channels but through the international media.  Pope Benedict spoke out against the growing digital divide, which he classified as “separating those included from those excluded.” He is right to concern himself with this, as people who are unreachable by ICT are also out of reach of those spreading the Catholic word, and either a) cannot be brought into Catholicism, or b) will not have access to the “same” Catholicism that is being developed by consumption of mass media elsewhere.

To relate back to global governance, groups like the Catholic church, whose identities are to some extent– like the nation—created and sustained by media, are sure to want a voice in the process of decision making.  Their very identities depend upon it.

[Disclaimer: I don’t believe that the Church is as dependent on mass media for a construction of identity as nation states are, as Catholicism has tighter and much more ancient traditions and histories around which to construct itself.  However, for many American Catholics, especially those for whom Catholicism is a cultural identity first and a religion second, I would argue that identity as a member of the Church is firmly intertwined and constructed via shared cultural events/messages/scandals/experiences packaged and delivered by mass media.]

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2 Responses to Sadly, this post is not about LARPing

  1. Liza says:

    Annie, you bring up some very interesting points. First of all, the transformation of the usage of Facebook is extraordinary. I remember looking at my sisters facebook when I was in high school thinking how cool and exclusive it was, and then I was so excited when I got my college email soIi could also sign up. Now, like you mentioned in your intro paragraph, both of my parents have facebook pages, my 13-year-old cousin, aunts,uncles, and even my grandma have facebook pages. Yes, I am facebook friends with my grandma! Facebook has taken away its exclusivity and become a form of global communication. I think facebook follows the trend of many successful communication forms by realizing that exclusivity is not always the most beneficial.

    But this notion of the Catholic church using facebook brings the power of facebook to a whole new level. I think it not only shows how pertinent facebook is in all of our lives, but that in todays age, the best way to get your voice heard is through the internet. Facebook is now building and maintaining communities. Yet, I also think one could argue that this move by the pope is some ways a sense of insecurity on the part of the pope. I think there are certain institutions that before were seen to be above facebook and that didn’t need to turn to facebook to maintain their prominence. Yet, now it seems like no one is above the power of the internet and social networks.

  2. Lauren B. says:

    I think if the Pope had a google alert set to himself that would definitely be some serious insecurity, but I think this post raises a really good point with relevancy. If one of the world’s oldest and most strongly established institutions is jumping into global media networking, what does that say about our dependency on social networking for survival in the modern world? But I actually don’t think that for the Catholic Church, it is about insecurity or relevancy but instead is a way to attract and convert new members. Spreading Catholicism has always been one of the pillars of Catholicism itself and I think their new global involvement in the wired world is just another extension of that. Can’t really try the Crusades again…

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