When social media was created, it began as a means to connect. Look at Facebook, for instance. By just searching for a classmate’s name from the third grade, you can easily reconnect and see what she’s been doing in the last ten years. More so, a mutual friend’s list is created to find even more people that you know. Even acquaintances can get to know more about you in just one scroll than they knew about you over the past decade. Crazy.
But we also know that social media has not been always used for those purposes over the years. The list goes on and on, but provocative and inappropriate material is there. It’s truly unfortunate that social media platforms aren’t as pure and fun as they once were.
With that being said, I could tell you to just follow Catholic people and pages on all your social media platforms to keep a pure heart, but that isn’t realistic. We might have family members and close friends who sometimes post things they shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean we should completely remove them from our friends list or from our lives – especially if they haven’t done any direct harm to us.
The best way to create change is to begin with ourselves. So, let’s take a look inside our hearts to dive into the causes and effects of our own social media presence.
First off, considering that social media was established for the sake of connection, who are we connecting with and why?
Of the people and pages we follow, which of them evoke jealousy or envy? Is there a certain girl you have on Instagram from work that looks more fit than you? Do you tend to scroll on her profile for 15 minutes straight without noticing? Or what about that guy who posts on his story with his girlfriend every day. Is it easy to get caught up in wishing that was you?
Are you connecting for the sake of gossip? Of the group chats you have and all the memes you send to one another, are they disparaging a certain person or group of people you know? Do you mock what certain people post by sending it to your friends?
Do you use social media as entertainment, specifically when people argue? That one .gif of Stephen Colbert eating popcorn comes to mind.
In all those instances, especially the last one, we have to remember that those are living, breathing souls. Whether we see those people (rather, their social media handles) every day or if it has been years, those are people. They have dignity and we cannot ignore that. Our culture will bring up ghosting, at-ing (@ __) and even screenshotting as tools to make social media worthwhile. However, we must stick with what is True, Good, and Beautiful.
We should be living as children of the Kingdom both face-to-face and online. As St. Therese of Lisieux famously said, “The world is thy ship and not thy home.” Let’s rejoice because we know that we were not made for this world, we’re just passing through to Eternal Glory with God. Let’s rejoice because we live in this specific time period where innovation is alive and possibilities are endless. Let’s not run away from the present.
Sometimes, for instance, we might think that just because we enjoy handwritten letters over e-mails, we, therefore, do not fit into the twenty-first-century scene. If this is you, I encourage you to see what God can do through you in this specific era of technology and communication. There’s a reason that you’re here now.
So not only should your social media be feeding you True, Good and Beautiful content, but you also should be feeding others when possible. Your profile on your favorite social media platform does not require a certain level of aesthetics, vibrancy, rhythm, or even consistency. To have your profile (yourself), lead others closer to Jesus, all you need is a “yes” to Him. A lot of the saints didn’t live picturesque lives, so it’s OK if you don’t have stylistic Bible Verses or eye-catching photography accompanied by saint quotes. Those are beautiful and useful, especially when appealing to those who are not as familiar with the faith, however, the quality of the post isn’t what’s necessary, it’s the quality of your heart in what you are posting.
Stay connected to what is True, Good, and Beautiful.
“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 NABRE).
Today, go through your list of followers and following. Maybe you need to clean out those lists and you’ve never realized it.