It’s that time of year when everyone is setting resolutions and goals. For many Blessed is She readers, the top items on your list probably have to do with strengthen your Faith and cutting out a dependence on social media. At first glance they seem like two opposites: like they couldn’t be more different, or that one is sure to get in the way of the other. However, with careful consideration and intentional use, social media, apps, websites, and all the other things you can swipe left to find on your smartphone can help you develop a deeper Faith.
When you get down to it, determining what’s right for you can be incredibly easy if we just listen to Pope Francis. In the Pope’s off-the-cuff address at the World Meeting of Families, we were given this gem:
All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful leads us to God.
If we use this as a springboard it is easy to have a guide for our lives on social media.
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How to Use Social Media to Support Your Faith
Whether your favorite mediums are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, apps, or any number of online interactions, this can apply to it all. Take your social media outlets one by one, app by app, and ask yourself: “Is this good? Is this true? Is this beautiful?”
And if the answer to any of those questions is “no” then it is time to reconsider how you use it or if you should use it at all.
Is this Good?
Do you know that goodness is a Fruit of the Spirit? It is! Goodness is a way for people to know God through us and we are to do good to all people (Galatians 6:10). If your use of social media is not encouraging you to be good or show goodness to others – if it makes you irrational, argumentative, and hostile – it is not letting the the Holy Spirit work through you. Thomas Merton tells us:
Love seeks only one thing; the good of the one loved.
If our interactions are not good, they cannot be loving, and if our interactions are not loving, they cannot be good. Good social media should encourage you to be more virtuous. Perhaps it will encourage humility by learning more about the lives of others or generosity through another’s example.
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Is this True?
Not everything you read on the internet is true. I know this is a shocker. And what’s more, you’ll be hardpressed to find a social media avenue that speaks truthfully one hundred percent of the time. Misunderstanding and misinterpretations do occur, but what is more important is two-fold: can you encourage others toward Truth, and does it lead you to Truth? Are you free to offer discussion and dialogue or are you shut down or trolled constantly for speaking Truth? Does it lead you to Truth or away from it? Is it’s intent to uphold a person’s dignity or to diminish it? As Mother Angelica said:
It’s your obligation to speak the truth, and everyone can either take it or leave it. But truth must be in us.
True social media should allow you to both speak Truth and encourage you to discover Truth further. Perhaps it’s fruitful discussion, or sage advice from others, or inspiration to dive in deeper, to seek more, or to lead others to that deeper understanding.
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Is this Beautiful?
This isn’t just about web design, though I would tell you to fill your smartphone with plenty that inspires you to admire the beauty that God inspires. When I speak about beauty, it’s more than just skin deep. Beauty is something people are drawn to, beauty catches the eye of even the most antagonistic non-believer. Father John Cihak says:
…how can you engage the average nonbeliever? How can you place him on the road that would lead him back to the Truth and the Good? Show him beauty.
Is there beauty in your interactions? Is that beauty more than just skin deep? It is not enough to just share beautiful pictures, sharing beauty is so much more than that. Beautiful social media should inspire and dignify. Perhaps it shows you the beauty of the world around you, or beauty through suffering. True beauty always leads us, ultimately, to God.
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Now that we have these guidelines, what do we do next? To start, there are some things that should be deleted immediately: any social media sites that exist only to tear down, berate, or criticise others. There are sites out there which are solely meant to tear down bloggers, Instagram users, or various people online. If you’ve fallen into these delete them now, delete your bookmarks, block them on your browsers.
Now look at the rest. Perhaps all you do is argue on one social media outlet, perhaps another just makes you jealous, and the other is just a complete time waste. If you relate to these feelings, you’re probably better off without these particular social media platforms. If it’s hard to let them go completely, deactivate your account for a few weeks and see if you’re a little calmer, a little more content, and a little more productive. Sometimes it’s best to pick and choose, to be active on only one or two things for the sake of your sanity and sometimes your soul.
Does this mean we should just delete social media and be internet hermits? Of course not! It will all be personal. I have friends who love Twitter while I deleted it and never looked back years ago because all it did was make me distracted and crabby. There are people who can’t log into Facebook without getting into a heated debate with a friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s orthodontist’s ex-mechanic, while I love the discussions and relationships I build with it. Healthy social media use is personal, and often times it’s seasonal.
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We can use social media wisely. We can join groups that encourage prayer, support, and community. We can have Truth-filled discussions in under 140 character. We can share glimpses into each other’s lives that support and connect. We can use social media to further God’s kingdom and to bring us closer to Him. We only have to take a moment and look for what’s true, good, and beautiful online.
How do you use social media to support your faith? Give us some ideas in the comments below!
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Molly Walter is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother to two children on Earth and four babies called home to Jesus. She has a deep love of her faith, her family, literature, handcrafts, gardening, and Star Wars. When not working full time outside the home or wrangling her next family adventure, she blogs about all the good things in life. Find out more about her here.