Here's a puzzle. How does this:
"I think there's a worry that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community.
We're losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person's mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point.
Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanises what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.
Facebook and MySpace might contribute towards communities, but I'm wary about it. It's not rounded communication so it won't build a rounded community...If we mean by community a genuine growing together and a mutual sharing in an interest that is of some significance then it needs more than Facebook." (Archbishop Vincent Nichols)
result in a headline like "Archbishop slams online friendships"? That's such a pathetic and lazy piece of journalism. Who needs a thoughtful debate about the interaction between real and virtual community when you've got such nice big fat pigeonholes to put people in?
The Times is even worse than Yahoo "Facebook drives teens to suicide, says Vincent Nichols". No it flipping well doesn't. Read what he says!!! Sure the headline may get more people reading the article, but it also makes them less likely to actually listen to Nichols actual words. However, just for balance, Ruth Gledhills blog is worth reading on this, where she makes the valid point that bullying on Facebook tends to be an extension of bullying in 'real life', so social networking sites are just one of many mediums which can be used for good or ill.
On a personal note, with a few exceptions all of my Facebook 'friends' are people I've met face to face and would consider to be friends anyway. I'm happier with the Twitter idea of 'followers' - the use of 'friend' to describe the relationship you have with someone through Facebook devalues friendship. As a way of keeping in touch with people who are already friends, social networking sites can be very helpful. But as Nichols says, if they become a substitute for face to face relationships (rather than an extension of them), then that's not good.
Update: excellent piece from Bishop Alan, who, as always, puts it much better than me.