Or should that be GIF-t from God? Pope Francis declared Thursday that the Internet was invented by God, who gave it to the world as a great big present. In honor of the Vatican's World Communication Day, Pope Francis said in a statement that the power of the Internet to unite the world and help to close the increasing gap between rich and poor is "something truly good" and a "gift from God."
In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another, Pope Francis said in his statement.
But the Internet, as we know, has its drawbacks, and the pope does have a few things to say about the perils of high-speed Internet. "The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced forms of self-expression," the pope said, reminding everyone to actually read the articles you save to read on the subway instead of mindlessly swiping your screen.
Similarly, Pope Francis says the biased nature of, ahem, some media outlets means people "barricade" themselves behind opinions and news angles that confirm their beliefs, instead of considering an alternative viewpoint. Our constant connectivity to media, Pope Francis says, could make us isolated us from our neighbors as we continue to walk the fine line between expanding our knowledge of the world and becoming more insular. And connections sparked digitally must turn into true encounters, the pope added, which could quite easily become a new slogan for Craigslist.
Pope Francis is truly the Internet's pontiff, having dabbled in selfies and regularly tweeting words of comfort and advice from the @Pontifex Twitter account. But despite his commitment to championing the world's poor and living frugally — staying in a modest guesthouse instead of the opulent papal apartment — the pope called abortion "horrific" in his "State of the World" address, and it doesn't look like female priests will be getting ordained any time soon.
Still, this GIF sums up quite nicely Pope Francis' feelings toward the Internet: