Facebook and the Pope – a billion or more.

You may remember that in October 2012 Facebook released a statement saying that their  one billionth account had been set up. If this was translated into a country’s population, Facebook would be the third largest country on Earth.

Later today, Pope Benedict XVI will abdicate from his post. When he made his first announcement and again yesterday giving his final papal blessing, he spoke to a community of 1.1 billion people across the globe. I heard devotees in Mexico, Chile, Nigeria and the Philippines on the radio talking about how their leader spoke to them directly. In my book, Facebook has just been relegated in to fourth place in population standing behind China, India and the Catholic community.

As a part-time user of Facebook, I have amassed 96 friends in total and another 82 on the Equality Edge Facebook Page; sometimes I ‘talk’ to them. If I add my Linkedin contact list, Twitter followers and blog readers, perhaps I can add another 2000 people, who I ‘talk’ to more often. But why do so many of us spend time trying to build our online communities – what do we hope to achieve?

I have so many thoughts I want to share; perhaps about my passions for equalities, human rights or respectful communication. Maybe I have heard or read some news that stimulates or excites me, or causes frustration or anger. When I share and people listen or read, I feel heard. I have my communities around me, both real and virtual, in the same way we all do. When I am heard it validates (and sometimes challenges) my thoughts, ideas and beliefs. That is why I build and communicate with my communities.

PopeGoing back to the Pope, can you imagine really talking to so many people – and have them listen too. His followers felt he was talking to them personally; he spoke to a real living community of over a billion people. No Facebooker, Tweeter or other online communicator could claim to have done that. Having all that power, yet being able to remain humble in communication – that’s what you call a skill. Perhaps we all have something to learn about the way we communicate either real or virtual, from Pope Benedict. I present you with a short list:-

  • Communicate with humility and care.
  • Be respectful.
  • Know your limitations.
  • Talk softly – you can translate that to online communication.
  • Help your listener believe you are talking to them personally.
  • Share something important about yourself.
  • Value everyone; you never know which of your contacts will be your greatest supporter.

A few other little pointers that might be useful, but perhaps do not come from the Papal message.

  • Be active in your community – if passive you will be invisible.
  • Recognise that every person is the centre of their own online community, just as you are the centre of yours.
  • Show respect to others in your field – there are people who know more than you.
  • Listen to others and respond when communicated with.

I guess this is the space to wish the Pope well in his retirement and wonder what the communication skills will be of the incoming post holder – will he realise his flock is bigger than Facebook’s or will he use social media to communicate his messages?

About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
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5 Responses to Facebook and the Pope – a billion or more.

  1. In don’t believe the Pope (this or anyone who’ll come) talks to 1.1 billion people. I imagine that this figure is base on the number of people declaring themselves as Catholics. This doesn’t mean that they follow Papal directives, prohibitions, prescriptions, and so on. In other words, the average level of engagement for the common Catholic (at least in Europe, and I guess also in South America) is quite low.

    • equalityedge says:

      Of course, you are right. The figure is the number of people who describe themselves as Catholic. For sure not all of them accept the Papal word as truth and directive. I used the figure to raise the concept of talking to so many people at one time. If the figure is only 700k or 350k, it is still quite a community to talk to.

  2. My dear i have circulated for you across the net… i have also put alot of other info about the pope out

  3. Jasu Patel says:

    I do believe that the Pope’s final Blessing was heard by 1.1 billion people around the world. The figure denotes the number of people tuned in to listen to the Pope. One cannot say they were all Catholics only. There were people from other denominations as well. After all there are so many similarities in different religions.

    • equalityedge says:

      Naturally other people than Catholics heard the Pope, me for one. I was using this story to introduce the idea of talking to such a huge community.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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