Young people, in particular, [the Pope] says, are increasingly involved in social networks, posing important questions about the authenticity of one’s own being. In the search for sharing and finding new “friends”, the message stresses, there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself. It is important, the Pope reminds us, always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives
I think that there are two important messages here that government organizations struggling with how to relate to social networking should read very carefully.
Virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives. It is unlikely that participation and collaboration will be entirely happening in cyberspace any time soon, does not matter how advanced technologies will be. Actually, this is true also for electronic service delivery, when people show that talking to a human, rather than browsing a web site or chatting with an IVR system, remains very important.
There is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself. While these words refer to people who like to create an alternative online identity that has very little, if any, resemblance to reality, it could be well applied also to the never-ending debate about the boundaries between official, professional and personal profiles on social networks. People are who they are and if they want to engage – professionally or personally – they need to be themselves. One thing is to make sure they can protect their privacy and prevent professional activities and contacts to creep into their personal lives more than they wish to. Another thing is to create a purely professional profile, where there is no resemblance to who they really are.