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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Pope is on Twitter and what that means for your weekend

Last week the Pope joined the unwashed masses on Twitter (@pontifex for English speakers). So what does that mean for you?

Right now, not much. After a flurry of posts in the first day, the Pope went radio-silent for a week before jumping on again to drop a couple more thought-bombs on the Twitter-verse. He's tweeted a total of 9 times (as of this writing) and, though he has 1.2 million followers, he only follows 7 people (perfect).

A week ago there was a wide swath of news coverage about the Pope being on Twitter and then things petered out (ha). The same thing can happen easily to you. As the estimable Admiral is so fond of saying, "It's a trap."

Social media isn't a panacea that allows anyone to connect with anyone else. Getting on Twitter or Facebook won't make you better at interacting with young people; it won't increase your ability to relate. Just tweeting (9 times over the course of 7 days), gives a false sense of accomplishment. It's too soon to tell for sure, but it's looking the Benedict XVI is doing what so many on Twitter do: joining and then ignoring the medium.

What social media really offers is a tool that can build relationships and facilitate connections. But the tool must be used to do the work. Relationship doesn't exist without work. Connection doesn't happen without effort. The Pope won't make a difference online if he's not willing to put in the time and energy to post regularly and interact with people. Neither will you.

The Pope's dearth of tweeting isn't surprising, neither is yours. What would really be surprising is if he started connecting with people in a real way and putting in the work to engage individuals in meaningful dialog.

Would it be surprising if you did the same?

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