Talking much, listening little
I think that the model of interactivity that the Web pages can follow must be marked by the model of Church-communion, to which Benedict XVI is dedicating his pontificate. A diocese where the bishop alone has a presence on the Internet, is not a full Church-communion, as the rest of her ministries and charism will be absent.
In the daily life of a diocese there are also catechists, parish priests, youth groups, and deacons. Where are they on the Internet? It would be to fall into relativism or into a “flat” Church, without ministries or charisms, to put everyone on the same level, and make everyone do the same and with the same language. That’s not the Church.
The Internet should be a reflection of the life of the diocese, and not simply an instrument of institutional communication of the diocese’ office of communication and public relations. Genuine interactivity takes place when the real life is faithfully reflected in the virtual reality.
It is curious, but the Web 2.0 industry has “robbed” from Christian language the model of communication it pursues: the community. And community is communion. The Church has created communities for 2,000 years. Now, the great marketing success on the Web 2.0 depends on the capacity to create “communities,” which later are reduced to groups of common interest to which it is possible to sell products of specialized announcers, who today are the ones who pay the most.
If, in communicating on the Internet the Church does so as Church-communion, if her “community” life is reflected on the Web, then she will also be able to build “community” on the Internet. For the surfer visiting her services, it will become something almost evident to enter into contact with the diocese’s closest reality, which can be his own parish, Caritas’ service, or the diocesan choir.
When a Church communicates on the Internet as communion, in community, the reality moves from being virtual to something real, as it puts the surfer in contact with the real life of the diocese, parish or community. And it is then that the greatest interactivity is achieved, when from the virtual reality one moves to “encounter,” which is, when all is said and done, what changes a person’s life.
From the address given by Jesús Colina, editorial director of ZENIT and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, at the World Press Congress, organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
To read the whole text: Talking Much, Listening Little