"We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment,” says C.S. Lewis in his Introduction to The Screwtape Letters. Though Lewis is talking about life in the netherworld, upon reading his description I immediately thought of the hell we sometimes experience on earth: social media.
All of social media isn’t bad, of course; none of the things in this world are. The problem with social media (and good food, alcohol, television, and my smart phone) is me, the user. Social media tempts me to present my life in a way that is sometimes inaccurate; it accentuates the best part of me without sharing the weaker aspects. It also distracts me from my own real life or embroils me in arguments unlikely to change anyone’s mind.
Social media can also be a powerful tool—a means of spreading light in a dark, post-Christian society. Social media allows me to share my faith and dialogue with others who think differently. It enables me to post a beautiful image, a touching moment, a well-written article, or an idea I’ve never pondered before from a book.
But how do I consistently act as a harbinger of good news at a noisy watering well filled with dreariness, competition, ego and anger?
Here are five things that help me remain positive when posting to social media.
1. Be authentic. I love Instagram because I enjoy the snapshots of people’s lives. It’s tempting, however, to slap pretty filters on photos and set up a story that isn’t necessarily the complete picture. I have unfollowed many whose lives appear too pretty, too white, and too staged. I love a beautiful image and story, but what I love more is an authentic, beautiful image and story.
There are a few Catholics on social media who consistently tell brave, true stories of their lives and who inspire the search for beauty and goodness. The following Instagram accounts do a good job of sharing a slice of life while also depicting a firm, Catholic identity.
Rita Buettner @ritaaopenwindow. Rita knows the painful struggle of infertility and the thrill of eventually adopting two boys from China. Her joy and enthusiasm for her faith and her family are contagious.
Carrie@cheers_and_screams shares the struggles and joys she faces as a mother to an adult daughter with cerebral palsy. Carrie’s devotion and dedication to her special needs child is admirable. She also has great taste in books.
Amy Laddbush @party_of_thirteen. A mother of 11 children, Amy’s quiet example inspires me to be more generous, to love without tiring, and to look for beauty in the chaos.
2. Share good stuff. Not everyone needs to know what I think about Donald Trump or Pope Francis or Meryl’s Streep’s speech at the Oscars. A few questions to ask before posting to social media:
- Is this post kind?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it true?
Aleteia writer, Zoe Romanowsky, does a terrific job of culling the most inspirational news on the Internet. Below are a few of the stories I’ve shared on my own accounts:
3. Pray before you post. Before typing a word, say your favorite prayer and invoke your patron saint or Guardian Angel to guide your thoughts and words, center your work, and infuse charity into your words.
4. Follow positive examples of social media evangelization. I’m consistently impressed with the work of Father Robert Barron whose recent interview with atheist, Dave Rubin, is a solid example of how to interact and discuss ideas with people whose views are diametrically opposed to your own.
I also appreciate Lisa Hendey’s example, founder of catholicmom.com, and author of both adult non-fiction and children’s fiction books. The work she contributes to print, radio, and television Catholic media serves to highlight the good work other people are doing in the Church today.
Randy Hain and Deacon Mike Bickerstaff at Integrated Catholic Life do a terrific job of encouraging people to integrate their faith into both their work and their home lives.
Finally, Sister Theresa Aletheia, who describes herself as a #MediaNun, and is the author of the book The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church writes practical pieces on spirituality and living the faith right here at Aleteia.
5. Limit your time. Real people are right in front of you, don’t miss out on interacting with them! Set reasonable times for social media use, then log off and live. Facebook will be there when you return.