“Sister, do you use Facebook and that other stuff,” a woman in the check-out line at our community’s annual BBQ and Boutique, inquired this past Sunday. “Yes,” I answered, “and Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.” She went on, “We heard about that in Church this morning.” She shook her head and said, “They are not good.” “That’s not true.” I said, and then added, “The Pope tweets, you know, and many dioceses and parishes are on Facebook.” She shrugged her shoulders, smiled and moved on.
Who is delivering such a message? Anything can be used for evil, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be used for good. It is surprising to me how many people I meet who are convinced that Facebook and other social media are the work of the devil. Yes, people can become addicted to it, use it to spread lies and ruin reputations or other such acts, but the problem is the user not social media. These same ills are on TV, in movies, newspapers, and in any large group of people. We are adults, we know how to sort these things out.
Real people are on the Internet with hopes, dreams, fears, sorrows, and joys. Being with them as witnesses to Christ and his message is good, important, even necessary if we are to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.
Social media users need to be vigilant and avoid and/or report posts that cross the moral line. They can also block such posts from their own sites. Parents need to be especially vigilant for the sake of their children as we know there are people looking to prey on children and teens on the Internet. But there is much good there as well.
Fortunately, many good people, many religious institutions and agencies, non-profits, reputable news agencies and experts from many fields are on the Internet and social media every day. They recognize the value of these tools and are using them to advance positive messages and helpful information.
I do not know who delivered the negative message about social media that this woman heard in church on Sunday, but I hope it wasn’t the homilist. Those in teaching and preaching positions need to know what the Church has been saying for many years especially in the popes’ annual messages for World Communications Day and in other documents, about the value of these new tools for evangelization and catechesis.
There are people who are not interested in or even opposed to using the Internet or social media. That’s okay. I respect their feelings. However, I do not think that because they can’t or don’t want to learn social media, they have the right to demonize it for others, especially if they are in positions of influence and authority. What do you think?
The woman’s question took me by surprise. What would you say to someone who tells you that social media networks are not good?