Since I won’t be able to attend World Youth Day in Australia (and am no longer a youth!), I’m living the pilgrimage vicariously via the web. I’ve joined the Facebook equivalent for WYD: xt3. That’s right, now I have not just one, but two reasons to spend inordinate amounts of time online!
There are numerous discussion groups on the site. My observation, from my limited experience participating in the discussion threads, is that the Instant Messenger generation is not used to the discipline of having sustained conversations on a single topic. It’s difficult to have a focused discussion on, say, the Church’s teaching on marriage when every participant introduces a tangent or simply emotes in their posts. One of two things is bound to happen, I think: either people will get really good at communicating in sound bytes, or they will learn — by trial and error — the old-fashioned art of conversation: listening, asking clarifying questions, offering counterpoint or adding related information, etc.
I think the site will be particularly valuable for those who return home from Sydney and want to get in touch with others in their area who have been through the same experience — another example of using virtual community to foster actual community.
I’ve never been to WYD; the closest I’ve come is listening to Fr. Willy Raymond’s podcasts from WYD Cologne in 2005. You can listen to these audio podcasts using iTunes by clicking here.