Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission: July 2019

‘Text messages and social media a gift from God’

Why on earth would the Liverpool Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission, along with the Archdiocese itself, the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) and other J&P-based groups use a number of different social media accounts?

While it is important to acknowledge the flaws and be aware of the potential dangers when dealing with social media, which may seem a bit daunting for the uninitiated at first, the advantages are plentiful. Social media can be very valuable to groups such as ourselves. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking’. There are many different social media platforms, of which the four most popular are YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

• YouTube is a video-sharing service that allows users to watch videos posted by other users and upload videos of their own. It is also the second most popular search engine behind Google, and is one of the most popular sources for news.

• Facebook is a popular free social networking website that enables registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family, organisations and colleagues.

• Twitter is an online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called tweets.

• Instagram is a photo-sharing app which allows users to assign filters to photos and share them with followers.

These platforms are fantastic for promoting an event, sharing news or raising awareness of a particular issue, permitting you to instantly reach thousands of people, all for free – meaning an opportunity to communicate with potential new contacts who otherwise would never have had the chance to find out about J&P. They also allow you to share photos, reports, resources and videos from events with both people who attended and those unable to be there.

Social media has brought the world together, making it possible to connect with millions of people at the click of a button – a wonderful example being the ability to sign and share petitions online. Twenty-five years ago, getting 10,000 signatures on a petition would have taken a very long time and a lot of effort, whereas nowadays it can take a single hour. While previously it would have been impossible for petitions to receive a million signatures, now it is not uncommon – as occurred with the petition for a second EU referendum, which achieved over seven million signatories in under five days.

Social media is not perfect. However, it is an asset we certainly should take advantage of if we can, especially when Pope Francis said that ‘text messages and social media are a gift from God’ in his message titled ‘Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter’ for the 50th World Day of Social Communications.

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Please continue to pray for Steve Atherton and NHS staff.