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Bishop’s warning over social media

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter threaten the existence of real friendships, a senior church leader has warned.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, the Bishop of Exeter, said he empathised with the Queen who is recently said to have decried the sea of mobile phone cameras which greet her public appearances.

The cleric said he was concerned the increased presence of technology was eroding the use of traditional and more personal forms of communication, such as letters.

In an interview with the Western Morning News today, the bishop said: ” I think one of the things I’m genuinely sad about is that Facebook and everything else, like Twitter, is great, provided that it’s not a substitute for real relationships and meeting people.

“As a society we have to have flexibility in the way we communicate. Modern technology is a great servant – provided that it doesn’t become our master. I still write letters in my own handwriting to thank people.

“I have friends who write to me and I pick up the envelope and I know who it’s from because I recognise the handwriting – there is no substitute for that personal contact.”

Despite some early reticence, the church has embraced technology in recent years.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has nearly 65,000 followers since beginning to tweet in 2011, while the official Twitter page of Pope Francis has nearly 4.5 million followers.

The full interview with the bishop is due to be printed in tomorrow’s edition of the Western Morning News on Sunday.

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