Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, has said websites creating virtual friendships such as Facebook and MySpace are leading to suicides, and we’d all be better off having the same imaginary one as him, instead.
He claimed that the sites are leading teenagers to build “transient relationships” which leave them unable to cope when their social networks collapse, where the next obviously logical step, is to kill yourself.
“It is the rejection that people can’t accept,” said the Archbishop.
“It’s a rejection those of us within the Church have never felt, because after all, how can you be rejected by an imaginary friend?”
“This is the special friendship power that the church has.”
He said skills such as reading a person’s mood and body language were in decline, and that exclusive use of electronic information had a “dehumanising” effect on community life.
“How can you expect people to learn interpersonal skills when they spend all their time telling their personal secrets to a computer screen?”
“What sort of way is that to build a fulfilling personal relationship?”
“It’s a bit like talking to a faceless man behind a dark curtain about all of the bad things that you’ve done recently.”