Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Archbishop: My Facebook Hell

DA was on excellent form yesterday on the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols. Of course, this is to say no more than I agree with him, as, having had his fill of shooting at an archbish in a barrel, he turns on Dr Aric Sigman, equally batty, and with the batty person's ability to become a "fellow of several institutes who has been a consultant to several companies" but not really on topic.

At least our man bothers to read, which is more than can be said for Nichols and his supporters. The second last comment as I write begin:

The archbishop hasn't got a problem with facebook. He has a problem with an excessive use of facebook.

Nichols interviewed (?) by Ruth Gledhill in the Times:

Archbishop Nichols said that social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace encouraged a form of communication that was not "rounded", and would not therefore build rounded communities. He said young people were being encouraged to build up collections of friends as commodities, that these friendships could easily collapse, and teenagers were left desolate when they did.

That looks like a dig at Facebook per se even if he immediately moderated his comments. (Not that the quoted paragraph makes any sense. You could argue that cricket-playing isn't "rounded" and is insufficient to build rounded communities and therefore no one should play cricket. Repeat for every known activity until satisfied that nothing can build a rounded community.)

His argument that the internet and mobile phones are "dehumanising" community life come after the death of 15-year-old schoolgirl Megan Gillan, who took a fatal overdose of painkillers last week after being bullied on Bebo, another networking site.

And this affects Facebook how? Ophelia drowned herself in Hamlet, why didn't the church call for the draining of ponds, lakes, and rivers? Mad Danes hazard to young women anyone? See also Lawyers, Guns and Money.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a bit much to bang on about "bothering to read" when you haven't yourself even bothered to find, let alone read, the actual interview: by Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph rather than Gledhill in the Times who merely wrote an article about it. It wasn't that difficult to track down.

As I read it, your analogy "You could argue that cricket-playing isn't "rounded" and is insufficient to build rounded communities and therefore no one should play cricket" fails. He talks about "excessive use", "too much exclusive use" and that building a community needs "*more* than Facebook" (emphasis mine) Quite, and I would happily say the same about cricket (if it wasn't a bit blindingly obvious) despite wasting a great deal of time at the Oval whenever I can.

I agree that the bullying & suicide link is tenuous (Gledhill is rather good about this on her blog today)

8/05/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS it is not immediately clear to me that the link to the suicide of Megan Gillan is something Nicholl's said, rather than a link by Wynne Jones.

8/05/2009 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's how I read the interview as well. If we take it that Vinnie is talking about excessive use of social networking as a substitute for real interaction, it both makes more sense and is consistent with what he's been saying for years about the decline of community spirit. Certainly there doesn't seem to be much there to back up the Daily Fail's "Facebook causes suicide says archbishop" headline.

Being a scouser, Vinnie is a lot less woolly a speaker than Rowan Williams, but he still doesn't tend to talk in soundbites. The discursive style is the one he prefers and is better suited to. I think this is more of Aaro reading an article suggesting that a churchman had said something vaguely silly, and going into his Defender of Rationalism mode. But at least he does it more plausibly than Francis or Nick.

Just got the latest Eye. Nick's boring on about libel tourism again, though he's bashing a Russian oligarch this time rather than that Saudi sheikh the Eye seems to be obsessed with.

Capture "deflatio", which has a nice Latinate ring.

8/05/2009 09:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't help that Wynne-Jones seems to have written up the same interview twice (1, 2) and done it badly on both occasions, or that the Torygraphs subs have gone a bit overboard with the headline, or that neither Gledhill nor Aaronovitch link to Wynne-Jones piece (though Gledhill does in her blog).

8/05/2009 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The libel stuff in the Eye is really boring, again. a long piece on a libel suit vs the economist that never really happened, but seems to have been fair game to be attempted from what I can tell. you can tell cohen;'s struggling when he starts bringing in entirely unrelated cases involving other Russians, and includes two entire paragraphs about how much champagne was ordered t a restaurant.

and the Desmond piece, while entertaining about him, has a lot of Eady-bashing, which would be ok if they would only publish his justifications for the actions they disagree with. The eye is at its absolute worst when it indulges partisan personal grievances like this one - and as I've said it clearly all stems back to Eady finding against Martin Bright, losing him his job and thus incurring the wrath of the two rottweilers, Cohen and Wheen.

as or this facebook stuff, well it's fish in a barrell, but I'm really unsure about this:

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

how is that any different from, I dunno, music fan clubs or the personal ads and pen-friend stuff you used to get in the back of NME? it's all a bit easier now, but in reality people are facebook friends with people they were already friends with in real life. Very few people genuinely spend all their time online at the expense of going out, and those who do are still interacting more than they might have done twenty years ago. And cyber-bullying isn't really different to any other kind of bullying, which has always existed. A lot of the naysayers are too bound up in worst case scenarios.

I'm still not entirely sold on Aaro and the rest as digital evangelists, mind you. none of them seem to really understand much at all about online culture.

8/06/2009 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

For the true estilo tabloidio the headline should read
Archbish:My Facebook Hell

8/06/2009 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the Bright affair will come into the Eye's coverage of Eady, but there may also be a slightly more creditable side that was highlighted by Hislop's evidence to the Select Committee. That is, since Eady is the High Court's media expert, he's creating an awful lot of the case law around libel and privacy. And Hislop expressed himself very worried that the Mosley case was creating a privacy law by the back door.

One wonders, though, given the likelihood of the Eye ending up in the libel courts in the near future (not least if they keep running cut 'n' paste articles from HP Sauce), whether slagging off Eady every fortnight is a smart move. Or - a Machiavellian writes - it could be a very smart move, as a feud between Eady and the Eye would be a good reason for Eady not to preside over such a case. I merely throw this out as a suggestion.

8/06/2009 08:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you have a great deal of opinion on the matter but I like your intellectual style so I'd like to know your thoughts on religion, existance of a god and atheism.

8/07/2009 03:53:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

the HP Sauce cutting and pasting seems to have abated a little, and I like this conspiracy theory, splinteredsunrise. There is certainly credit in some of the campaigns against libel laws, it's just that the ratbiter pieces do a spectacularly bad job of making the case for the campaigns.

In entirely unrelated news, surely Nick has a readymade, ultra-boneheaded column waiting for him with all this organic food stuff that's been in the press recently...

8/07/2009 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is indeed a great deal to be discussed about libel law, but Ratbiter's articles leave you none the wiser. If Tom Bowyer won against Desmond, and if the corrupt Ruskies backed down before the start of the case against the Economist, then there would appear to be little wrong with the law! Neither is a case of libel tourism. Free speech and the public interest appear to have been upheld in both cases.

There are of course issues with libel law. Money and bullying can tip the scales against the truth. The presentations by PE and the Graun to the Select Committee are worth reading. Unfortunately Ratbiter's style obsures more than it clarifies, especially the red herrings about different cases. And the stuff about Eady is so slanted that it obscures what could be a useful criticism of his judgements in some cases.


8/07/2009 12:04:00 PM  

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