Pope Benedict Praises Social Networks, But Warns Of Risks

What have you 'Liked' today? Anything? Probably a lot of things. Well over 500 million Facebook accounts exist, and that number is growing rapidly every single day. The world is becoming more of a digital one, and it's safe to say we're living in a "digital age." With social networking becoming so prominent and playing such a huge role in our everyday lives, it's oftentimes easy to forget about the humans that actually surround us. Are we more fixated on online friends than our actual, physical neighbors?

It's a real question, and it's a real concern according to Pope Benedict. The Pope touched on a number of digital aspects in a speech on Monday, praising social networking for its ability to bring people from all locations and cultures together, but also issuing a warning that constant engagements in these networks could assist in losing focus on what's really there. His speech title was as follows: "Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age."

He mentioned "great opportunities" presented by networks. He didn't call anyone out, though Facebook and Twitter are obviously two that he must be referring to. He specifically warned of "the risks of depersonalization, alienation, self-indulgence, and the dangers of having more virtual friends than real ones." To quote the Pope: "It is important 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."

Despite being far older than the vast majority of people who are signed onto social networks today, the speech hits home. With smartphones around, it's easy to remain constantly engaged in an ever-changing online world, but even easier to forget about what's really going on around you. Are you obsessed with social networks? Is one reality becoming stronger than the other? Food for thought, for sure.