Monday, February 6, 2012

Evangelizing the Digital World...

...according to me (this one is long, grab a cup of coffee)

The last few weeks have been nothing short of a roller coaster for faithful Catholics that pay attention to the news (actually, to all people who pay attention to the news).  As a consequence, my facebook has gotten a little, how you say, controversial.  I have been posting a lot of things and frankly, have taken some heat from it.  I made note of the fact that I have ‘lost’ a few fb friends because of it and it has got me thinkin’….so I decided to post my thoughts.

Those of you that know me, know that I am passionate about Social Media.  I give talks/workshops on it and consider it my duty to stay informed regarding what the Church is saying about Social media/what the Bishop’s are saying.  The Church overwhelming affirms the use of social media both for staying ‘connected’ (which might surprise people) and for evangelization.  The Holy Father actually referred to Social Networking as ‘integral to the  human experience’ (gnaw on that FB haters!).  Facebook, in particular, has helped me with my job and kept me connected to my distant family in the best way possible (I regularly see pictures of my nieces/nephews in different states and get family updates in a super cool way).  Anyway, as a consequence I am 100% intentional about every single thing that I put on my social networking sites AND as a Catholic CYM, I spend a good deal of my time on these sites- in an effort to connect and bring the gospel message.  BUT, as of late, it has been hard.  I have received many a phone call saying,  ‘I think I am going to get rid of my facebook, it is just too hard to not comment on the trash people are putting up’, or, ‘It isn’t worth it to post about our beliefs, just to be slammed’, or, worse yet, ‘I don’t want to ‘jam’ my beliefs down someone else’s throat’.  And so my friends, here are my personal social networking guidelines, lest there be any confusion.

I will always post if the Bishop’s are asking us to spread the word.
The HHS mandate is probably the most offensive thing to hit the Church and religious conscience in recent history.  All people of faith should be concerned; rather, all people that care about religious liberty should be concerned.  When the bishops ask us to spread the word about something, there is no better way than through social media avenues (just ask Bishop Coyne, Cardinal Elect Dolan, or Father Robert Barron).  On my FB wall, I freely and intentionally posted about it.  There was some very respectful debate, some really good questions and lots of affirmation.  However,  I am certain I lost at least 1 facebook friend over this one.  The bummer of this, is that this person is Catholic and a huge mentor to me.  But, alas, Jesus never promised us that all people will always like us. 
I will always post pro-life things
The recent activity of the SGK organization and their link to planned parenthood has caused quite a Social Media stir.  I make no apologies for posting about these things, though I know they are hard for some people to see.  People that are pro-life have an issue with planned parenthood not because of the ‘good’ that they do, but because part of their business (whether 3% or 9%) is killing babies.  Now, pro-life people are all over the board with this one, but most believe that abortion is taking a human life.  If we really believe that, all the ‘good’ that planned parenthood does, is far outweighed by the bad.  If one disagrees, that is just fine, but let me say one more thing to help people understand.  If pro-choice people knew that a company was killing 5 year olds (over 250,000 a year), they wouldn’t care about the ‘good’ that the company was doing.  One might not agree that abortion is killing, however, at least looking at it that way, one can see why, ‘all the good’ planned parenthood does…actually doesn’t matter to the convicted pro-life person.  THAT is why I have and will continue to post about abortion/planned parenthood.
I will make good use of the unsubscribe button and encourage you to
Facebook takes so many ‘hits’ from people, but the great thing is…they really set up their social networking site to allow for the most pleasurable viewing experience.  If my posts offend you, please feel free to ‘unsubscribe’. That doesn’t mean you have to remove me from your friends (for that would be quite intolerant), it doesn’t mean you have to be mean... just don’t look at it.  Trust me, I do it to people all.the.time.  I cannot possibly ‘jam my views down your throat’ if you have the ability to unsubscribe from me.
I will always be respectful
You will NEVER find anything on my facebook that is disrespectful to people.  There might be articles that disagree with the view’s of others, but I draw the line at disrespect.  In my comments, last week, someone said something regarding the HHS mandate about our ‘piece of sh—president’.  It was immediately removed.  I don’t tolerate language like that AND I don’t think it is helpful.
I will always remember the impression I am giving others
My life should be a witness of love.  Therefore my social networking sites should be a witness of love.  If I lose charity in the way that I am speaking, the things that I am saying, the points I am trying to make…then I have lost any ability to spread God. Because, my friends, God IS LOVE!  I will say, this is the one thing that irks me about ‘like-minded’ people. I see their fb posts, and I see no love, no compassion, no kindness.  That, my friends, is NOT Jesus.  AND, one can spread truth in LOVE, even in the digital world, if you need tips, I am willing to shareJ  I am not saying I am always 100% perfect at this, but I am intentional about trying to be.

What I WILL NOT do
 I will not allow pointless debates
The back and forth about certain topics will sometimes be stopped on my posts.  It is not because I am  ‘unwilling to hear’ the other side.  It is because facebook debates often turn ugly.  As with any social media, the danger is that people will write things that they would NEVER say in person.  Respect, love and true evangelization is lost.  And, the great thing is FB gives me the power to stop a thread or delete comments…I have no problem doing so.
I will not post things I know will be personally hurtful to others, even if I feel justified in doing so.
I am often shocked by certain posts that people throw up on their walls. And I am going to be really specific about what I am thinking. I am a Catholic, I love every.single.one of the Church’s teachings…however- there are certain teachings that need to be so filled love when explaining and most of these have to do with sexuality.  A priest once told me that the moments when you see Christ in his greatest compassion have to do with sexuality/sexual sin.  I was amazed by that.  Maybe next time when you want to post about the abomination of same-sex marriage, you should consider that…I’m just sayin’
I will never post about political things on my wall
Never will you find, on my wall, an endorsement of a particular candidate or a particular way of thinking because of my public role as a Church worker.  GOD is NOT a republican and there are plenty of things within the Republican party that the Church doesn’t dig.  God is NOT a democrat and there are plenty of things within the democratic party that the Church doesn’t dig.  Each Catholic needs to decide for themselves (guided by church documents) what issues the Church puts the most ‘weight on’ and then vote accordingly, but I promise, we are not allowed to say definitively that God would FAVOR a particular candidate- we just aren’t (at least in our public roles as Church workers).  I have been accused of being a ‘crazy conservative’ on my fb wall…to that I challenged, ‘find me something that is ‘crazy conservative’.  And people couldn’t. I love my Church and I am crazy pro-life, but other than that, when I speak ‘politically; on social networking walls, I speak from the mind of the Church, not as a party platform cheerleader! (side-note I have posted ‘political’ things on other’s walls if I think they will enjoy it…why?  Because I am nice!)
I will never slam our current president
I will criticize the current administration’s decisions if they go against the Church’s beliefs (notice I said the Church, not mine) but on Social Networking sites, you will never see me ‘slam’ the current president or president’s past.  It is inappropriate for a Church worker to do that, so I don’t.  Don’t believe me?  Go back and check!
I will never allow disrespectful comments on my FB  wall
If someone is disrespectful to my Church or my person, I will not allow it.  Cyber-bullying occurs with adults to, and I have ZERO tolerance for it.  A few days ago, I posted that I had just ‘deleted’ a ‘fb friend’ on one of my threads.  This person came  first attacked the church (not criticized, not asked a question, but attacked).  When I removed that comment, he attacked me.  So, I deleted him as a ‘friend’ and was criticized for it.  What those of you that might have questioned that move don’t know is that I inboxed this person and have gone back and forth in a respectful/but not public way.  If you show me that you cannot be trusted to post in respect on my wall, because of my decision to ‘allow’ teen friends, you will be removed as my friend. Simple as that. I don’t mess around with such things.

That is all.
I know this is a book but understand, I am passionate about social networking and the GOOD it provides. I get discouraged by the ‘haters’ of social networking and those that are frustrated with me/what I post. 
Have a happy Monday, I shall be posting more positive things on this blog later in the week. Rock on rockstars.


  1. This is really awesome Mary. I'm not great with the abortion issue not becoming ugly because I take it personally. It's also hard for me not to be angry with our president and criticize him because, again, I feel personally targeted by him. That is why I've left those things off my page. I realize it does more harm than good to attack the man rather than the policy. Good on you for being able to have sense and direction when you post.

    1. This is amazing Mary. Thank you. I am sharing this on my wall. I still have a sick pit on my stomach. Part of the sickness I feel is why more Christians are not upset by the events that have been taking place these past few weeks. As you know I have Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL) My lovely daughter signed up to raise money for the NHL society by running a race. It was brought to our attention that the society uses some of that funding for stem cell research. She immediately pulled from the race. Her nor I want want my life saved by killing babies.
      Thanks Mary for all you do!!! xo

    2. My mom sent me this article, and I love it! She said she wishes she could have written every last word, and I agree! I was thinking that you should really consider publishing this elsewhere. I am part of a blog network that would love this article! Either that, or I would love to feature it on my blog so that others can read it. Let me know if you are interested. It is such a powerful message.


    3. Thanks for the comments guys...Social Media the last couple weeks had been pretty rough, so I had to put it in context to make it make sense in my head:) Jenna, please feel free to post in either places- I am happy that others are resonating with how I was feeling :)