Do You Use Facebook and That Other Stuff?

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 1, 2013

in social media

Picture1“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?

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn October 1, 2013 at 10:22 am

Susan, thanks for this – and for all that you do. I am going to be offering a workshop at a diocesan event at the end of the month, Enabled to Proclaim: Social Media and Evangelization. I am going to be quoting you as part of my presentation.

As for what I say – that is a tough one. I have let my temper and my passion get the better of me, but that is a story to be shared in a message, and not a comment box.

Mags Blackie October 1, 2013 at 11:06 am

Just today I had contact with someone through Facebook who said unequivocally that they are grateful for my contributions on social media precisely because through it they have encountered Christ.
It isn’t always like that, but it has certainly been a place that I have made meaningful connections (both giving and receiving). My world and my faith would be poorer without it.

Dr. Mary Amore October 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Dear Sr. Susan,
Your posting have inspired me all summer, and now I am proud to announce the launching of MAYSLAKE MINISTRIES new website and mobile website featuring a daily reflection, a weekly blog, and a video library designed to nourish souls on the go. Please check us out at I’d love your feedback. We totally see the validity of sharing the good news through social media. Keep us the good work!! Blessings

MeredithGould (@MeredithGould) October 2, 2013 at 11:06 am

Me? I can barely keep a civil tongue in my head these days when people trash social media. On a good day, I get all Socratic and ask questions like, “What about it worries or scares you?” or “If you believe we are all called to fulfill the ‘Great Commission,’ why wouldn’t you want to use every tool available?” I suggest they buy my book.

I need to have more good days. Lately I’ve been actively praying that God BIND MY TONGUE.

Martina November 9, 2013 at 9:17 pm

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I think people see all the negativity that comes from social media and wrongly form an opinion of it. We could say the same about a number of other things in which people misuse things and distort their purpose.

I’ve been online for nearly 20 years, met my husband online and have a teenager who currently uses social media…I also run a large, multi contributor blog that is centered on sharing the Faith. No one can simply write off the use of social media as all bad unless they see no value in evangelizing. And, considering the primary purpose of the Church is *to* evangelize, it’s a missed opportunity to bring others to Christ. I think it’s fine for someone to say “oh, it’s not for me.” But to paint it with a broad brush as bad? No, that doesn’t work.

Here is my series I wrote on my own personal story online. 🙂

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND November 10, 2013 at 4:51 am

Thanks for you comments. I read your online “witness.” Thanks for sharing it. Blessings!