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.]