This reflection explores some of the pastoral opportunities, as well as dangers and drawbacks, of the plethora of electronic communication systems which we now have at our disposal: smart phones, websites and social media. Bridie Stringer lectures in Pastoral Theology at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
The last time I contributed to a formation programme aimed at Confirmation candidates, I became acquainted with the acronym ‘YOLO’. During some small group work in our session together, one of the young people used this abbreviation and I asked what it meant. ‘You only live once,’ came back the reply. I nodded sagely and said: ‘You know ... you are absolutely right. You do only live once and what difference does that make in how you live your life?’ I think the group were probably disappointed that I found YOLO an interesting concept to reflect on. Since then, I have learned about FOMO (fear of missing out), LOL (laughed out loud), BTW (by the way), and many other codes from the world of text messaging. Of course, coming from an entirely different demographic to those who generally communicate this way, I understand that there is nothing more tedious than a superannuated ‘trendy’, but the point I am making is that there is no context which is outside the reach of God.