Wired magazine, the issue with Brad Pitt glowing a blue tooth out his ear, tells me it’s ok if I text when I am at lunch. Which I do sometimes (but I have double standards, part of me still speculates it’s antisocial). I read on and realize they are talking about teens. Oops. And apparently teens don’t have my middle-aged double standards, because for them it’s being inclusive: letting their friends who aren’t there in on what’s going down. It is in fact is hyper-social for them.

Recently the Archbishop of Westminster complained publicly to the BBC about social media being bad for ‘social interaction’, and one of his supporters seconded this with the opinion that social media made young people less sensitive to body language etc, and less likely to actually interact.

Yep, you guessed, both those two people were middle aged plus. And you probably are yawning: “oh comes another generation gap story”. You might be right, you also could be wrong, frankly I don’t know. But I have noticed a couple of things.

I find it curious that the Catholic Archbishop and Muslim hardliners (in Indonesia included) both are upset about Facebook etc, albeit for different reasons. What is so interesting is that their reasons, though superficially perhaps valid to their respective congregations, are at odds in their analysis.

The archbishop is worried about youths becoming alienated from the ‘real world’. The Muslim hardliners insist that it is exposing the youth to too much contact with the outside world, sex (talk about body language!) etc. Go figure.

Meanwhile there are plenty of young people using the internet in very responsive and responsible ways, be they Catholics, Muslims, or just plain secular. That much is obvious, now that so many world leaders are quietly exploring Obama’s example of using twitter. Not to mention the US State Department flying in the leading lights of social media into Iraq on a mission to explore, not for investment opportunites, but how they could help rebuild Iraq.

And as to the argument that people miss out on physical communication, it has been pointed out that In fact social media can be more revealing about someone’s personality – particularly as there is an ongoing track record of posts and updates which can be reviewed at any time. You don’t have to be a genius to spot a schmuck online.

The generation gap argument doesn’t really hold water – there are plenty of middle-aged people who use Facebook and so on. As one of them I even follow a 104 year old woman in England who is on twitter. She loves it!

Is it possible that Archbishop and the hardliners are socially out of touch? Or fearful that if people don’t goose-step to their drumbeat it might be the end of the world as we know it?

Irrespective of all of our qualms, it is a different world now. It’s not that body language ceases to be important – that we learn from when we are babies. It’s that when we start learning to network in this day and age, it’s potentially tapping into something far more collective than one person’s interest group or the village square.

You make what you want of it.