The internet has become is dominated by website users. This means that for the Facebook generation everyone is a publisher and everyone a critic; and there is a massive democratisation of information.
Such Websites, have no editors and users are expected to edit inappropriate or inaccurate content.
Although these changes are astonishing and even revolutionary, the social media does not create physical revolutions. The internet has no other purpose than to dispense data, to spread information. It has no ethics, no values. It does not espouse moral principles or any principle for that matter. The web is neutral. It is nothing more than a machine, a tool that can be used for positive or negative purposes.
The impact of the social media depends solely on the people who use it -and how they use it. In other words, it is not the medium itself but the motives of its users that is important. For example, a tractor is a tool. It can be used to tend fields and haul fruit and vegetables from the field. But a tractor can be used to destroy fields and demolish all means to bring food to the hungry.
Yet, this transformation in communication has massive implications for religious authority. Just a couple of generations ago the priest was not only the moral and spiritual authority but also probably the most educated. Today the internet and the social media are primary authorities for information and a bigger authority on matters of belief and practice than a minister of religion.
Lord, help us learn a new literacy and become fluent in new forms of communication. Amen.