Should the Pope be on Twitter?
On the morning of the 3rd December 2012, the social media klaxon sounded once again, as Pope Benedict XVI became the second religious figurehead, after the 14th Dalai Lama in February 2010, to have a presence on Twitter. Vatican representatives didn’t just set up the one account though, they created a total of nine pages, including one for readers of Latin, who I thought were few and far between, perhaps as many as the number in a village church congregation. Of course, since the creation of the accounts, Benedict XVI has left public life and been replaced by Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, of Argentina. Personally, I don’t think this was because of trolls.
But do the Holy See, Dalai Lama and other major figureheads, such as Barack Obama and our supreme leader actually make good use of social networks? Also, do they create their own updates, inevitably with the advice of a PR Executive, or are they leaving it to their gophers to post on their behalf? In my opinion, the US President and the one being made to look like a fool by his backbench MPs can be commended, given that they engage with non-profit organisations such as Help for Heroes, and other legislative representatives, although only on a limited basis. In comparison, the accounts of the religious leaders only publish spiritual words of advice, which doesn't always agree with everyone.
So the initial conclusion I’ve drawn, is that public figures tend not to use the full potential of Twitter. However, do politicians need the aggravation of interacting with random individuals, given the near inevitability of the air turning blue? (an unfortunate phrase for David Cameron). Probably not. This isn’t the norm though, as everybody’s favourite, Boris Johnson, has demonstrated, simply by having a befuddled approach to current affairs and being a bit of a joker (ahem).
Does Pope Francis need to have a presence on Twitter? Hasn’t he got more important issues on his plate?
But let’s be honest, as was outlined previously, he almost certainly has little influence over what is published on the Internet. Given the traditionalist nature of the Catholic Church, he might not even care!
Retain the status quo it is then, provided it doesn’t cause Pope Francis and his staff any difficulty.