Facebook or MySpace communication is not "rounded", the Archbishop said
Social networking websites, texting and e-mails are undermining community life, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols said MySpace and Facebook led young people to seek "transient" friendships, with quantity becoming more important than quality.
He said a key factor in suicide among young people was the trauma caused when such loose relationships collapsed.
"Friendship is not a commodity," he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
He added: "Friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it's right".
Archbishop Nichols said society was losing some of its ability to build communities through inter-personal communication, as the result of excessive use of texts and e-mails rather than face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations.
He said skills such as reading a person's mood and body language were in decline, and that exclusive use of electronic information had a "dehumanising" effect on community life.
Archbishop Nichols said that social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace encouraged a form of communication that was not in his words "rounded", and would not therefore build rounded communities.
The Archbishop also warned of the danger of suicide among young people who threw themselves into a network of friendships that could easily collapse.
He said young people were being encouraged to build up collections of friends as commodities, and were left desolate when these transient relationships broke down.
"Facebook and MySpace might contribute towards communities, but I'm wary about it," he told the newspaper.
"Among young people often a key factor in their committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships.
"They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they're desolate.
"It's an all-or-nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast."