Head of English Catholics warns about emails/texting

LONDON Sun Aug 2, 2009 11:26am EDT

A Pakistani man poses with his mobile phone containing a prank message in Karachi April 13, 2007. REUTERS/Zahid Hussein

A Pakistani man poses with his mobile phone containing a prank message in Karachi April 13, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Zahid Hussein

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LONDON (Reuters) - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales is concerned that excessive use of emails and mobile phone text messaging is creating shallow friendships and undermining community life, according to an interview published on Sunday.

Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, also said that popular social networking sites led young people to form "transient relationships" which put them at risk of suicide when they collapsed.

"Friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it's right," he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"I think there's a worry that an excessive use, or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community."

The Archbishop, 63, said too much use of electronic information was "dehumanizing," leading to a loss in social skills and the ability to read a person's mood through their body language.

Furthermore social networking sites encouraged children to place an excessive importance on the number of friends they had instead of the quality of their relationships, he said.

"Among young people often a key factor in their committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships. They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they're desolate," Nichols said.

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

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