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A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Social Media Interactions

 

A Faithful Catholic

Were you as distressed as I was over the anger and vitriol created by the story regarding the high school aged boys from Covington High School and their clash with two groups of minority protestors after the March for Life? Honestly, I was ashamed to see such mud slinging and name calling coming from several prominent Catholic circles on social media. Have we become a culture of knee-jerk reactionaries? What has happened to civility, compassion, and restraint?

I’m going to get a bit preachy here, so please bear with me, but I think it might be good to re-evaluate our own behavior on social media. We need to ask ourselves how we might best represent our faith and how we might best respond to volatile online exchanges in a Christ-like manner.  WWJD, y’all?

1.THINK—A few years ago this was a popular anagram making the rounds as a way of teaching our children civility.

T—TRUE.  Is what I’m posting true? Am I being 100% truthful? 

H—HELPFUL. Will what I’m posting be helpful to say? Will it help clarify a concept or a misunderstanding?

I—INSPIRING. Is what I’m posting meant to inspire positive feelings and/or actions?

N—NECESSARY. Is what I’m posting necessary? In other words, first check your pride. Does it need to be shared? It very well may be necessary as a spiritual work of mercy in which we are called to instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinner.

K—KIND. Are my words kind? Is what I’m posting as charitable as possible?

This anagram is great for adults as well as kids. I know I’m going to try and use it more often in my day to day exchanges.

2.Pray before you post or comment on something on social media that could be remotely controversial or provocative.  This is a faithful Catholic’s version of taking a deep breath and counting to ten. Taking a step back, praying and reflecting on your words may keep you from hurting someone. We should never be a stumbling block for someone else. After praying, do you still feel the need to say something? I bet our answer to this question might be “no” fairly frequently.

3.Verify, verify, verify before you post or repost a story. If the Covington debacle taught us anything it is there is so much more to the story than what we see at first glance.  That is not to say that having more of the story will change your perception or opinion, but it is generally best to have all the facts before making a judgement.

4. As our mothers’ used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Name calling, insults, or threats are never acceptable for any Catholic.  This was something I saw in the Covington aftermath which really prompted this piece for Catholic Sistas.

“Slander is a kind of murder, for we have three lives—the spiritual life, which consists of the grace of God, the corporal life, which is in the soul, and the civil life, which consists of our reputations. Sin destroys the first, death the second, and slander the third; but the slanderer is guilty of a triple murder with his tongue. He destroys his own soul and that of his hearer by spiritual homicide, and deprives the object of his slander of civil existance.”

-Saint Francis de Sales from An Introduction to the Devout Life-

5. Avoid getting into a back and forth argument. I’ve yet to see anyone’s opinion change in this type of exchange.

6. If you feel called to correct do it gently and privately.  As mentioned above, this may be something you need to do as a spiritual work of mercy. It will go over much better in a personal and private exchange. As mentioned above, be sure to pray and ask for guidance and wisdom before acting.

7. If you feel riled up by another’s post just keep scrolling.  I made this a rule a long time ago.  Like many of us, I have friends who do not share the same beliefs, political ideology, etc. as I do.  I find that if I come across something a friend has posted that I do not agree with it is much healthier for me to ignore it and just keep scrolling.  I have gotten into the back and forth with folks in the past and in the end it just created anxiety in me and kept me from doing the things I should be doing, such as caring for my family. I’ve also found unfollowing or even unfriending someone is better for my spiritual and mental well-being than becoming overwrought by their opposing views.

8. If you don’t like something someone has commented on one of your posts don’t get into a back and forth. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deleting their comment and moving on. Once again, if you feel you need to address the comment, do so prayerfully, charitably, and privately. 

9. If you feel overwhelmed with anger, anxiety because of social media it may be time to walk away from it altogether.  This can be anything from a temporary fast from social media or a complete break. Don’t keep engaging in an activity that robs you of peace or joy.

“When we feel ourselves stirred with passion, we must imitate the Apostles amidst the raging storm and tempest, and call upon God to help us, then He will bid our angry passions to be still and great shall be our peace.”

-Saint Francis de Sales from An Introduction to the Devout Life-

The internet, social media, and the instant gratification of this world are fraught with challenges to our spiritual and mental well-being. Let us remain vigilant in extending charity to everyone we come in contact with, whether in person or on-line. We might be the only experience of the Light of Christ they may have on any given day. What an important and beautiful responsibility.

 

 

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About Maurisa Mayerle

Maurisa is a Catholic convert from a non-denominational Evangelical background, happily married to a “retread” cradle Catholic. Chris and Maurisa have been married since 1991 and have 7 amazing and unique children. In 2012, Chris retired from the Air Force, took a corporate pilot position, and the family moved to beautiful Utah. Her interests include creative cookery, photography, reading, singing, apologetics, homeschooling, traveling, hiking, gardening, and caring for her 8 laying hens and 1 bully rooster. Maurisa maintains a personal blog at www.halfadozenproductions.blogspot.com