It is not unusual these days to find oneself with a group of friends, family members, colleagues, even casual acquaintances, when the conversation turns to hot-button or controversial topics whether they be political or religious. That’s when you know why the adage “You should never talk about religion or politics.” came to be. It can get uncomfortable depending on the passion and tone of the speakers and whether anyone else is really interested in what they have to say. Or if the speakers are interested in anyone else’s view. This reality has come to social media and I know more than one person who stopped reading their Facebook Timeline during the general election, because they could not take the hostility and negativity. Unfortunately, that did not end with the election.
During the election, I had a few “friends” using Facebook as a personal campaign platform. A few others provided information, resources and differing views that I found useful in my own discernment and a very few who were offensive in tone and content. Of the latter, I unfriended one and “hid” the posts of another. Occasionally, I shared posts from resources that I trusted to give a Gospel/Catholic Social Teaching view of policies and actions, but I stayed clear of engaging in political threads. And that’s what I do on Twitter as well. Even with that caution. I was surprised to find myself scolded by someone on Twitter for re-tweeting a post by one of the Cardinals on our obligation to welcome refugees and immigrants.
The audience for my Catholic Web Solutions Facebook Page is not following me for my social action views–so I did not post anything there.
In general, I am not a social activist on social media, but I do see the need for people who know the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching and are active in social causes to be active on social media. We need to see their expertise and their informed commentary on the issues facing us. They need to tell us from their experience the human impact and the moral consequences of policies that are being proposed or enacted. I will continue to re-tweet their posts.
My friend, Meredith Gould, has put together a Power Point presentation called “Digital Activism 101.” It is very practical and easy to follow. If you are thinking about being more active on Facebook or Twitter in terms of social justice issues or if you already are, you will find some wonderful tips and resources here. (Click the arrows to see it full screen.) It is important that our posts be fact-based, true to the gospel and Catholic social teaching, respectful of the other and appropriate for our audiences.
What is your experience of social activism on social media?